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Lake Profile

Constance (Bodenesee, Konstanz)

General Information

Description Lake Constance is central Europe's second largest freshwater lake, and lies just north of the Alps. More than 90% of the water flow originates from the Alps. The catchment area covers Germany (28%), Switzerland & Liechtenstein (48%) and Austria (24%).
Country Austria
Latitude 47° 40' 0" (47.6667)
Longitude 9° 20' 0" (9.3333)
River Basin Rhine-Maas


 Constance global index map (LakeNet Explorer)
 Constance Locator Map
 Lake Basin Management Initiative (LakeNet Explorer)

Physical Characteristics

Description Unlike other large lakes at the foothills of the Alps, the water level of Lake Constance is not regulated artificially. Water levels fluctuate approximately 2 meters during their annual cycle.
Volume 48.50 km3
Surface Area 571.50 km2
Depth Mean depth: 85.0 m
Maximum depth: 253.0 m
Residence Time 4.3 years
Age 10,000 - 99,999 years before present
Origin Glacial
Trophic State Mesotrophic
Type Fresh
Catchment Catchment size: 11,487.00 km2
Catchment/surface area ratio: 20:1


Economic Value More than 4.5 million people in Austria, Germany and Switzerland depend on Lake Constance for drinking water. There are approximately 3,200 people per square kilometer living near the lakeshore. Tourism is also important at the lake. Each year there are approximately 10 million overnight stays, resulting in 15,000 full-time jobs. Environmentally friendly tourism also plays a role. The ECOCAMPING Project Initiated by the Lake COnstance Foundation has developed an environmental management system for camping sites.
Major Cities
Population 2,200,000 (0)

Watershed Management

Description All of the watershed management efforts may serve to develop Lake Constance so that it is stable against anthropogenic stress coupled with unfavourable climatic conditions, which have increased during the last few years. To obtain this state it is necessary to improve the quality of the whole lake with its pelagic, littoral and profundal zones. At the moment Lake Constance can be looked at as an ecosystem in transition.
Issues Zebra mussels are proliferating and covering boat bottoms & other hard surfaces in the lake. The number of pleasure boats has doubled in the last two decades, leading to water pollution from two-stroke engines and wastewater.
Other Issues Nutrient pollution
Polluted runoff
Watershed habitat alteration

Biodiversity Conservation

Description More than 30 species of fish inhabit Lake Constance. 250,000 waterfowl and shorebirds winter or breed near the lake.
Designations LakeNet Biodiversity Priority
Ramsar Site
WWF Global 200
Species of Concern Reed marsh habitat supports several threatened bird species, including the common snipe (Gallinago gallinago).
Invasive Species Level Pervasive

LakeNet Programs

World Lake Basin Management Initiative
LBMI Regional Experience Sharing and Review Workshop for Europe, Central Asia & the Americas


Constance/Bodensee  (PDF) Experience Brief. Final. 2/27/2006.
Managing Lake Basins for Sustainable Use - Lake Basin Management Initiative Final Report (PDF)  Project Report. Final. English. 2/27/2006.


Biodiversity Conservation of the World's Lakes: A Preliminary Framework for Identifying Priorities
ILEC Database
ILEC Database: Bodensee (Lake Constance)
Issues at Lake Constance
Lake Constance underwater archaeology
Living Lakes Partner Profile: Constance
Photo Gallery of Lake Constance 1
Photo Gallery of Lake Constance 2
Satellite Image of Lake Constance
St. Gallen-Lake Constance Region


6/30/2013 - Alpine Lakes in Austria Reflect Climate Change
4/23/2004 - Towards a Lake Basin Management Initiative
3/26/2003 - Climate change linked to migratory bird decrease
9/8/2000 - Ice records reveal warming trend
9/30/1999 - Really rapid evolution: water pollution prompts crustaceans to adapt in a hurry

Additional Data Sources

Birkett, C., and I. Mason. 1995. A new global lakes database for remote sensing programme studying climatically sensitive large lakes. Journal of Great Lakes Research, 21 (3) 307-318.
Duker, L. and L. Borre. 2001. Biodiversity conservation of the world's lakes: a preliminary framework for identifying priorities. LakeNet Report Series Number 2. Annapolis, Maryland USA.
International Lake Environment Committee, the United Nations Environment Program and Environment Agency, Government of Japan. 1997. World Lakes Database.

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