Lakes in Poland

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Lake Wióry

The Great Pond of Poland

Poland is one of the European countries abundant in lakes, which are grouped mainly in the northern part of the country, that is, in the area covering the area of the last glaciation (Pomeranian Lake District, Masurian Lake District). The vast majority of lakes in Poland are glacial lakes, in addition, there are karst lakes in Western Polesia.

Table of contents

1 Characteristics 2 Water status 3 Polish lakes in water management 4 Bibliography 5 Footnotes 6 See also 7 External links

Characteristics[edit | edit code].

There are coastal lakes in Pomerania, formed as a result of the former sea bay being cut off from the sea by a spit (Sarbsko, Łebsko, Lake Dolgie Wielkie, Lake Dolgie Małe, Gardno, Wicko, Bukowo, Jamno, Koprowo, Kopań, Resko Przymorskie and Liwia Łuża). A small number are mountain lakes, primarily cirque lakes – in glacial cirques (cauldrons), such as the Black Pond, Morskie Oko, Mały Staw, Wielki Staw. The first study of the number and distribution of lakes in Poland was the work of Wincenty Pol in 1875,[1] which showed 5673 lakes between the Oder and Dnieper rivers. In 1925, S. Lencewicz’s work was published with a list of 6659 lakes over 1 hectare. The contemporary, most complete and up-to-date cataloging of Poland’s lakes is the work of A. Choinski, covering lakes over 1 ha (area estimated on the basis of maps at a scale of 1:50 thousand). Choinski’s three-part catalog of lakes (first edition) includes 7081 lakes larger than 1 ha[2][3](their total area is 2813.77 km²). Compared to 1954, when 9296 lakes larger than 1 ha[4] were cataloged, the number of lakes decreased by as many as 2215, or more than 11 percent. This was caused by the rapid disappearance of the smallest lakes. Poland’s lake area is only 0.9 percent of the country[3]. By comparison, in Sweden lakes cover more than 8.5 percent of the area, and in Canada about 7.6 percent.

Post-glacial lakes, formed after the receding of the ice sheet some 11,000-12,000 years ago and taking advantage of the associated land depressions, are the most numerous. The bowls of these lakes were formed as a result of the erosive activity of the ice sheet and glacial waters or their accumulation activity[5].

Water status[edit | edit code].

Of the lakes subjected to quality monitoring around 1980, one or two (depending on the criteria used) met Class I water quality criteria, and more than half or about a third had out-of-class waters. The cleanest of the lakes surveyed at the time were Gim, Bobięcińskie Wielkie and Milszewskie. Low ratings were usually determined by exceedances of standards for phosphate, organic nitrogen and fecal coliform titers[4].

At the beginning of the second decade of the 21st century, most had waters in moderate ecological status and good chemical status. At that time, the overall status was assessed for 728 lakes, of which 75 achieved good status[6]. The assessment of the ecological status of lakes throughout Poland is quite diverse, while chemical status below good was shown mainly in lakes of western Poland. The assessment of the ecological status of lakes as worse than good was most often determined by the status of biological elements – phytoplankton and macrophytes, as well as low transparency. This indicates eutrophication as the main pressure affecting lake waters. Nevertheless, most lakes did not have exceedances of nutrients, i.e. nitrogen and phosphorus[7].

Polish lakes in water management[edit | edit code].

The number of lakes in many European countries exceeds the capacity to manage their waters efficiently, so only the larger lakes are accepted as lake water bodies, and therefore the units of their administration. Although European law (i.e., the Water Framework Directive) does not specify the minimum size of lakes subject to administration in the water management system, in practice 50 ha is taken as such a limit[8]. In Poland, the 50 ha limit is exceeded by slightly more than a thousand lakes, and the exact number depends on the current version of Poland’s hydrographic division maps.

Number of lake water bodies


Lower Vistula (and Przymorze Wschodnie)

Middle Vistula


Lower Oder and Western Pomerania

Middle Oder





Łyna and Węgorapa



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