Europe’s freshwater supplies are under pressure. To improve the understanding and management of water resources, the European Environment Agency (EEA) has created a comprehensive series of map layers showing hydrological features. The tool, providing support to policy makers, spans river catchments from Iceland to the edge of the Persian Gulf.
The EEA Catchments and Rivers Network System
(ECRINS) is a dynamic set of map layers displaying the location and
characteristics of hydrological features such as lakes, dams, abstraction
points as well as monitoring stations and sewage treatment plants. It covers
river catchment information over the previous ten years. The maps directly
support environmental analysis such as water accounts and policy-making. For
example, one layer delineates all river catchments, which is useful for those
working to implement the European Union’s Water Framework Directive (WFD) at
the river basin level.
The ECRINS package is a public good, so is available
to anyone, including European institutions, national water agencies,
scientists, businesses, students and NGOs active in environmental assessments.
Users need GIS (Geographic Information System) software to access the map
The ECRINS layers can be combined with others, such
as those focusing on population or agriculture, to build an increasingly
detailed picture of the influences on Europe’s water resources. It is hoped
that this will allow users to answer a number of different questions, such as
'How many people live upstream of this lake?', 'What is the flow discharge at
this point?', 'How many cubic metres of water are abstracted to irrigate
fields?', 'What is the annual water balance for this basin?', 'What is the
length of accessible rivers below that dam?'
“The ECRINS map layers will be an extremely
important tool for understanding water resources in Europe,” EEA Executive
Director Jacqueline McGlade said. “The maps cover the EU and EEA member
countries, and include data from many others – in fact covering 70 % of rivers
in 10 million km2 of river basins across continental Europe and
the Middle East. Better access to information like this can help us use our
finite water resources most wisely.”
ECRINS has been built on the Catchment
Characterisation and Modelling (CCM) system developed by the European
Commission’s Joint Research Centre (JRC) with a resolution of 1:250 000. The
CCM has been completed with other layers with a resolution between 1:100 000
and 1:500 000. The geographical coverage of ECRINS goes beyond EU-27
and the EEA Member countries. All of continental Europe west of the Urals,
the Caucasus region and the Tigris-Euphrates river system is catalogued. It
includes an improved catalogue of names, meaning that particular river systems
with several local names may be easier to find.
The layers are available as Geodatabase files which
can be opened with well-known programmes such as Microsoft Access and ArcGIS.
They are also compatible with GDAL/OGR open source applications.
31 July, 2012.