Odra river basin

General information on the Odra river basin



The Odra is 840,9 km¹. Due to its regulation, the length of the river run was shortened by more than 20% in relation to its original length.

The Odra source

The Odra river basin is 124 049 km², of which 107 169 km² are in Poland (86,4%), 7 278 km² in the Czech Republic (5,9%), and 9 602 km² within the boundaries of Germany (7,7%)². The source of the river is in the Czech Republic in the Odrzanskie Mountains (Oderské vrchy) at the altitude of 634 m above sea level. 21.4% of the Odra’s water river basin lies 300 above sea level, 54% - between 100-300 m above sea level, 24% - below 100m. The highest point is Śnieżka (Sněžka/ Schneekoppe) in the Giant Mountains (Karkonosze/ Krkonoše/ Riesengebirge) – 1602 m above sea level. For the first 47 km, the Odra has a character of a mountain stream. The drop of the river from Ostrava (Ostrawa/ Ostrau) to the mouth of the Warta is about 27 cm/km, however below Schwedt it is below 5 cm/km. The Odra flows into the Szczecin (Stettin) Lagoon.

The largest tributaries in Czech Republic are:


river lenght³ river basin area¹
the Opava (Opawa/Oppa) 122 km 2 088,11 km²
the Olza (Olše/ Olsa) 86,2 km 1 106,12 km²
the Ostravice  (Ostrawica/ Ostrawitza in Ostrau) 63,9 km 827,09 km²

The largest left tributaries in the Republic of Poland with their sources in the Sudetes (Sudety) Mountains or in the forelands are:


river lenght³ river basin area¹
the Nysa Kłodzka (Kladská Nisa/ Glatzer Neisse) 181,7 km 4 570,31 km²
the Oława 92 km 1 135,42 km²
the Ślęza 79 km 973,15 km²
the Bystrzyca 95,2 km 1 782,61 km²
the Bóbr (Bober) 271,6 km 5 874,45 km²
the Kaczawa (Katzbach) 83,9 km 2 263,05 km²
the Nysa Łużycka (Lussatian Neisse) 251,8 km 4 403,45 km²


Because the above-mentioned rivers are of mountain character in their upper courses, they often cause flood hazards, especially the rivers in the area of Czech Republic, Nysa Kłodzka and Bóbr.

The biggest water reservoirs on the mentioned rivers of multifunction character are the following:
  • Slezká Harta, Kružberk – cascade on the Moravica river in the Opava river basin;
  • Šance, Morávka, Žermanice, Olešna and Baška – in the Ostravice river basin;
  • Térlicko – in the Ozla river basin;
  • Kozielno, Topola, Otmuchów, Nysa – creates the cascade of Nysa Kłodzka;
  • Bukówka, Pilchowice, Sosnówka – in the Bóbr river basin;
  • Mietków and Dobromierz – in the Bystrzyca river basin;
  • Słup – on Nysa Szalona (Wütende Neiße) River;
  • Leśna and Złotniki – on the Kwisa (Queis) river.

Whereas the largest right tributaries of the Odra within the boundaries of Poland are:
river lenght³ river basin area¹
the Kłodnica (Klodnitz) 75,3 km 1 003,43 km²
the Mała Panew 131,8 km 2 114,69 km²
the Widawa (Weide) 103,2 km 1 745,90 km²
the Barycz (Bartsch) 133 km 5 547,37 km²
the Krzycki Rów 72 km 562,91 km²
the Obrzyca 65,9 km 1 804,98 km²
the Warta (warthe) 808,2 km 54 519,56 km²
the Ina 129,1 km 2 150,60 km²
the Stobrawa 78 km 1 586,00 km²

The above-mentioned rivers are practically all lowland rivers. They do not cause any significant flood hazards. The largest water reservoirs on these rivers are Turawa on the Mała Panew River and Dzierzno Duże on the Kłodnica (Klodnitz).

Particularly important is the Nysa Łużycka (Lausitzer Neisse) river. The river is 251,8 km long and has a river basin of 4 403,45 km². It is a left tributary of the Odra River, into which it flows on the 542 km of the river’s run. The importance of the river comes from the fact that there are water reservoirs in tree countries: Poland, Germany and Czech Republic as well as from the river’s economic importance and all the international problems it may cause.

According to The International Odra Project, Odra's annual average runoff to the Baltic amounts to 18.5 billion m³, a value that corresponds with 29.5% of precipitation over the entire river basin.

The Odra is navigable from Kedzierzyn-Kozle (Kandrzin-Cosel) (including the Gliwice Canal that starts in the city) down the course of the river. 24 weirs are found along the distance of 186 km from Kedzierzyn-Kozle to Brzeg Dolny. This stretch of the Odra is called ‘canalized’. There is another weir under construction in Malczyce (Maltsch). Below Brzeg Dolny up to the mouth of the Warta water levels periodically preclude freight shipping navigation. The most important ports are: Gliwice (on the Gliwice Canal), Kedzierzyn-Kozle (Kandrzin-Cosel), Opole (Oppeln), Wroclaw (Breslau), Malczyce (Maltsch), Scinawa (Steinau), Glogow (Hlohow/Giogau), Nowa Sol (Neusalz an der Oder), Cigacie, Krosno Odrzanskie (Crossen an der Oder), Kostrzyn (Kostschin), and Sczecin (Stettin). Through a system of canals, the Odra has a navigable connection with Szprewa and Hawela. All reservoirs on the Odra are practically impenetrable for bi-habitat fish.

The Odra and most of its tributaries are very important ecological passageways of relatively low level of natural environment changes (in relation to the most of the EU rivers). There are seven national parks within the area of the Odra catchment. In the territory of Poland they are: Karkonosze (Karkonoski/Krkonoše/Riesengebirge), Table Mountains (Góry Stołowe/Stolové hory/ Heuscheuergebirge), Wielkopolska (Wielkopolski Park Narodowy), Drawno (Drawieński Park Narodowy), Ujscie Warty (Park Narodowy Ujście Warty) and Wolin (Woliński Park Narodowy); in the territory of Germany it is the Unteres Odertal (Dolina Dolnej Odry). Moreover, within the Odra river basin there are also landscape parks, nature preserves along with other forms of sanctuaries. Many areas, especially in river valleys, are being intended for protection within a framework of the NATURA 2000.

The Warta River (Warthe) needs to be discussed separately. Nearly half of the Odra river basin is attributed to the Warta – 54 519,56 km², which is also the Odra’s longest tributary – 808,2 km. The Warta River flows into the Odra on its 617,6 km, thus it is longer than the stretch of the Odra above the Warta’s mouth. The entire catchment area of the Warta is within the boundaries of Poland. The longest tributary of the Warta is the Notec (Netze) with the length of 388,4 km and catchment area encompassing 17 331 km². Therefore, the Notec is the second largest river – both with its length and catchment area -- within the Odra river basin (not including the Odra itself).

Other significant rivers within the Warta river basin are:


river lenght³ river basin area¹
the Prosna 216,8 km 4 916,63 km²
the Drawa 185,9 km 3 290,93 km²
the Gwda (Küddow) 145 km 4 947,27 km²
the Obra 163,8 km 2 760,17 km²
the Liswarta 93 km 1 558,94 km²

The biggest water reservoir on the Warta is Jeziorsko. There is a navigational connection between the Odra and the Vistula (Wisła) river basins via the Bydgoszcz Canal (Kanał Bydgoski), which links the Notec with the Vistula. Most lakes of the Odra catchment along with a number of valuable natural areas are found within the Warta river basin . There are three national parks there (Wielkopolska, Drawienski, Ujście Warty) which are closely related to the water ecosystems.

1 Source: Atlas Podziału Hydrograficznego Polski, Warszawa 2005

2 numeric data come from the calculations based on data from ICPO data base.

3 Source: Podział Hydrograficzny Polski, IMGW, Warszawa 1983

Last update: 2016.06.24