Last edited 21 Jul 2021

Water body

A water body is: 'A body of water forming a physiographical feature. In the WFD (Water Framework Directive) this covers: rivers, lakes, transitional waters, coastal waters and groundwater (aquifers).' Ref The SuDS Manual (C753), published by CIRIA in 2015.

This is as opposed to a watercourse, which includes all rivers, streams, ditches, drains, cuts, culverts, dykes, sluices and passages through which water flows.

Water for life and livelihoods, River basin management plans, Glossary, Published by the Environment Agency in 2016, defines a water body as: ‘A unit of surface water, being the whole (or part) of a stream, river or canal, lake or reservoir, estuary or stretch of coastal water. A groundwater water body is a defined area of an aquifer with geological and hydrological boundaries to ensure consistency and avoid fragmentation.’

It defines a heavily modified water body as: ‘A surface water body that does not achieve good ecological status because of substantial changes to its physical characteristics resulting from physical alterations caused by human use and which has been designated, in accordance with criteria specified in the Water Framework Directive, as ‘heavily modified.’

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