Elbe river

Fourth largest river basin in Central Europe

On its 1,094 km course from its source in the Sudeten Mountains in the Czech Republic to its estuary at Cuxhaven, the Elbe drains a catchment area of approximately 150,000 km2 in four countries. It is the fourth largest river basin in Central Europe. About 25 million people live in the catchment area of the Elbe, thereof 18.5 million in Germany.

Other important features:

  • About 735 million m3 of drinking water per year are drawn from the Elbe.
  • Even though the river is relatively unspoilt, e.g., only two barrages exist on German territory, it is an important German inland waterway.
  • Many protected areas are located along the river and underline its near-natural state: 136 designated or proposed bird sanctuaries, 1,165 registered flora and fauna habitats (thereof 1,137 areal and 28 linear).
  • The Elbe is rich in fish species and many sections have regained their original species diversity.
  • For 40 years the Elbe was the border river between East and West Germany. Today it reflects the changing pollution in the eastern parts of Germany.

The sampling area covers the 727 km long German section of the river.




Sampling period

1993 - 2022