Freshwater: Europe

Water resources are unevenly distributed in Europe. Annual average run-off ranges from 3 000 mm in western Norway to 100-400 mm over much of central Europe and less than 25 mm in central and southern Spain (ETC/WTR 2001). Traditionally, most European countries rely more on surface water than on groundwater, which is often used only for public water supply (EEA 1999a, Eurostat 1997). Data for assessing water quantity trends are rather poor but relatively good for water quality. Water pollution is a serious issue throughout Europe. Though some progress has been made in pollution reduction in Western Europe, the situation is less promising in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE).

Water stress in Europe (withdrawals as % of renewable resources)

Water stress occurs in parts of Europe, notably in the irrigated areas of CEE and the highly industrialized countries of Western Europe

Source: compiled from UNDP, UNEP, World Bank and WRI 2000