The Rhine, its tributaries and lakes in the watershed are called surface waters. One of the main objectives of the ICPR programme „Rhine 2020 on the sustainable development of the Rhine” and of the Water Framework Directive is to further improve the quality of these surface waters.
Human uses such as water intake, input of wastewater or navigation are stresses of different intensity on the surface waters. Therefore, these are regularly monitored within international and national monitoring programmes, in order to be able to assess the impact of the stress from uses. The results and an assessment of the water quality are summarized and published by the ICPR.
Apart from groundwater, surface waters are a decisive source of water supply for agriculture and industry. At the same time, lakes, brooks and rivers as well as mouths of rivers and coastal waters are habitats for a species-rich fauna and flora.