The commemoration of the International Year of Freshwater in 2003 stimulated numerous water-related activities at all levels world-wide. DEWA~Europe has now capitalised on its activities and data available on freshwater for the pan-European region and produced a new report: “Freshwater in Europe - Facts, Figures and Maps”. This publication is an overview, through a set of graphics, maps and other illustrations, on the state of Freshwater in Europe and Central Asia. The review has been compiled in support of UNEP’s reporting work on freshwater.
Few Europeans suffer from important shortages of water and poor water quality experienced by people in many other parts of the world. However, although many parts of Europe are currently well-provided with freshwater, the water resources are unevenly distributed between and within countries. Pressures resulting from human activities affect the quality of water resources in many areas of Europe, and thus drinking water quality is still of concern. Water stress exists in many places in Europe, resulting in serious water shortages, flooding, pollution and ecosystem damage. Climate change may also play a role, especially in coastal areas where flooding may disrupt sanitation infrastructure and thereby contaminate watercourses. There has been little progress in the integrated management of water resources. In recent decades, several legal instruments have been prepared and adopted at different levels. Important changes in water management are expected in the coming years, following implementation of recent directives. However, civil society has been criticizing the privatisation of water resources and resistance to such actions is growing.