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Rivers and Lakes in European Cities


Rivers and Lakes in European Cities

Past and Future Challenges

In recent decades, and after a gradual improvement in water quality due to wastewater treatment and reduced industrial activities, urban rivers and lakes have become increasingly important in the planning of urban ecology, green infrastructure, green areas and climate change adaptation in European cities.

This report describes water management issues related to rivers and lakes and outline the ways in which European cities develop strategies and measures to cope with the key challenges they currently face in relation to their inland surface waters. It uses 17 case studies on urban river and lake restoration to illustrate important aspects on urban and water management. The report draws some important lessons learned from the case studies reviewed and frames some key contextual issues that are potentially relevant to different urban settings across Europe.

The report was prepared by the EEA and the Ecologic Institute, who is partner of the European Topic Centre on Inland, Coastal and Marine Waters (ETC/ICM), in collaboration with city authorities.


EEA, 2016: Rivers and Lakes in European Cities. Past and Future Challenges. Technical report No 26/2016, European Environment Agency, Copenhagen.

Sindre Langaas (NIVA)
Peter Kristensen (EEA)
Published In
EEA Technical report
51 pp.
Project ID
Table of Contents

Executive summary
1 Context and objectives of the report and methodology
1.1 Context
1.2 Objectives of this report
1.3 Structure and method of the report
2 The fall and rise of urban rivers and lakes
2.1 The importance of rivers and lakes in European cities
2.2 Key impacts of urbanisation
2.3 Rediscovering rivers and lakes in our cities
2.4 European policy impetus
2.5 City visions and strategies for water
3 Coping with key challenges for urban rivers and lakes
3.1 Water availability and supply
3.2 Water quality
3.3 Structural changes
4 Lessons learned and way forward
4.1 Local and catchment planning
4.2 Multifunctionality
4.3 Space for urban restoration
4.4 Public participation
4.5 Governance framework
4.6 Concluding remarks — looking forward

urban, water management, river restoration, urban planning, water pollution, water quality, freshwater, river, lake, city , Albania, Austria, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czechia, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Kosovo, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Malta, Montenegro, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, United Kingdom, Europe, case study