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Water balances and water resources management targets

A project for the elaboration of physical water balances at sub-catchment level with monthly resolution was carried out for DG Environment with technical support from the European Environmental Agency.

Final report (4 documents) :

The project demonstrates the benefits of building a consistent framework for physical water accounts at EU level with a high degree of geographical, temporal and sectoral accuracy, for the consistency of data collection , the development of water accounting methodologies and the assessment of water balance and water efficiency. This will allow the improvement of water scarcity and water efficiency indicators.

The data collection and calculation was based on water use data reported at EU level via various reporting streams. The project highlighted important gaps in the availability of key data and confirms the need to design a more cost-effective process and to improve interaction between modelled and reported data.

The outcome of the process (as well as the parallel process on EU-wide hydro-economic modelling) was discussed in the meeting of Water Directors in November 2012, following a technical workshop that took place on 7/9/2012 with experts nominated by Member States and SCG stakeholders.

The study was complemented by 3 pilot projects carried out in 6 river basins across the EU, in the context of a 2011 Call for Proposals concerning preparatory action on development of prevention activities to halt desertification in Europe. The Commission awarded 3 beneficiaries with a grant in order to pilot the building of water balances at the local level and complementing the EU water resources balances. The following pilot projects received financing:

The European Environment Agency (EEA) prepared an overall synthesis of the EU-wide water balance process

Next Steps

Two open calls for tender were launched in March 2013 and published at the following website.

  • A service contract with 15 months duration to produce revised and complete European water resource balances (quantity, quality) with monthly resolution at sub-basin level under the ECRINS reference system, contributing i.e. to producing tables within the SEEAW framework. The starting point of the work consists of the results and the lessons of the water balance produced by the above mentioned contract. The new project will address and mitigate the most relevant data gaps (as well as methodological gaps induced by the absence of data) so that water balances can be established at sub-catchment level for the whole EU with at least the level of confidence achieved in the group of best documented basins to allow better comparability across Europe, at the end of the contract.
  • Another service contract with 9 months duration will contribute the former, providing a detailed picture of the vulnerability of the energy- industry/water system, by systematically investigating the use of cooling water for electricity and industrial production in the EU through the building of a geo-localised inventory of main plants.

A new Call for Proposals 2012-2013 on preparatory action on development of prevention activities to halt desertification in Europe was also launched. The main objective of the Call is to continue pilot projects on the building of water balances at the local level. The Call was published at the following website.

These projects will all start in Autumn 2013, updated information will be posted at that time.