Biggesee, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany

Lake Locations:

Germany - North Rhine-Westphalia -

Also known as:  Bigge Reservoir, Bigge Lake, Listersee

Surrounded by the Ebbegebirge Nature Park, Biggesee (see = lake) is the largest reservoir in Germany’s North Rhine- Westphalia region. Bigge Lake was created for water supply, flood control and water regulation, and it has become a valuable recreation resource in the heart of the Sauerland. Drawn to the lush countryside with its gently rolling hills, the area’s rich history, and clean lake water, visitors are sure to find something to please the entire family at Biggesee.

Biggesee is an impoundment of the Bigge River, a tributary of the Lenne River, which makes up the lake’s inflow and outflow. Construction on the dam began in 1956 and was completed in 1965. Bigge Dam is 170 feet high and almost 2,100 feet long and is used to regulate water levels on the Ruhr and Lenne Rivers. The reservoir, managed by the Ruhrverband, the Ruhr River Association, holds water until late summer, and over the fall water levels drop 16 to 33 feet to make room for snow melt and spring rain. Biggesee covers 2,165 acres and connects to the smaller Lister Reservoir to the west. Created in 1913 with the construction of the Listertalperre, Listersee is approximately three miles long and covers 415 acres.

There are two scuba diving areas in Bigge Lake, and the lake is a fantastic place to sail, windsurf, row and canoe. A beach on the lake’s shore gives access to the water for swimming. Anglers can expect to find healthy populations of pike along with some record sized lake trout. Boats cruise across the lake regularly, and visitors can relax and let the boat’s captain show them the sites on Biggesee, including the lake’s 74-acre island, Gilberginser. The island and part of the lake’s shoreline are a nature reserve created to protect the animals and wildlife that live there.

Self-catering holiday homes and vacation rentals can be found around Biggesee, as well as ample opportunities for camping. The town of Attendorn, on the northern end of the lake, has restaurants, shops and museums, and visitors can stroll the streets past charming historic buildings. The Atta Cave is Germany’s largest “dripstone” cave and the largest interconnected cave system in the country. A 262-foot long gallery leads visitors to view the stalactites and stalagmites in this very accessible cave. A tram runs regularly between the cave and Bigge Dam. On the southern end of the lake, the town of Drolshagen has several miles of trails for hiking and biking leading out into the rolling hills.

Bigge Dam is one of nine dams in the Ruhr area and the Naturpark Ebbegebirge. The resultant reservoirs created for water supply and hydroelectric power generation have become important resources for recreation. Along with the thousands of acres of water for boating, fishing and windsurfing, the Ebbegebirge Nature Park includes beautiful historic buildings including a few castles. The park is also home to a museum housing the oldest surviving charcoal blast furnace in Western Europe.

Visitors can alternate days spent playing on the water of Biggesee with daytrips, either by car or on foot, into the countryside to explore the history of the region. Dinner at one of the area’s restaurants, followed by a restful night at one of many holiday cottages, rejuvenates visitors for the next day’s activities. With something for everyone, Bigge Lake is sure to become a family favorite and a destination to return to over and over.

Things to do at Biggesee

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Boating
  • Sailing
  • Swimming
  • Beach
  • Canoeing
  • Scuba Diving
  • Camping
  • Hiking
  • Biking
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Museum

Fish species found at Biggesee

  • Lake Trout
  • Pike
  • Trout

Biggesee Photo Gallery

Biggesee Statistics & Helpful Links

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Lake Type: Not Known

Water Level Control: Ruhrverband

Surface Area: 2,165 acres

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 1,001 feet

Maximum Depth: 138 feet

Water Volume: 139,200 acre-feet

Completion Year: 1965

Drainage Area: 111 sq. miles

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Trophic State | LakeLubbers

Trophic State measures the level of algae and nutrients in a lake.

An oligotrophic lake is very clear (blue in color) and does not support much plant or fish life. A hyper-oligotrophic lake is the clearest of all lakes, and is nearly devoid of plants and fish.

A mesotrophic lake is slightly green and supports a moderate degree of plant and fish life. A lake's most desired trophic state is generally this mid-point - the mesotrophic state.

A eutrophic lake is somewhat murky and supports a large amount of plant and fish life. A hypereutrophic lake is clouded with algae, plant life, and fish life. A eutrophic or hyper-eutrophic lake can be difficult to navigate by boat - and is often an unpleasant place to swim.

The use of phosphorus-rich and nitrogen-rich fertilizer on lawns and golf courses surrounding a lake can cause it to become eutrophic or hypereutrophic.


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Catchment or Drainage Area | LakeLubbers

This is the surrounding area that drains into a lake, including land, rivers and their tributaries. This is also known as the lake's "catchment basin".

Small lakes at the highest peaks of mountains have small drainage areas. The world's oceans have the largest drainage areas.


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Lake-Area Population | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated number of people who live in a house with a view of a lake, plus those who self-describe the lake as their home, for example: "I live at Smith Mountain Lake."


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Water Residence Time | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated time that it takes for an amount of water equal to the entire volume of a lake to flow out of - or evaporate from - the lake.

Residence Time can be as short as a few days for fast-flowing small lakes, and can exceed 100 years for slow-flowing large lakes.


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Completion Year | LakeLubbers

This is the year that a reservoir was first filled to the reservoir's normal elevation - or the year that a natural lake was first dammed. A large reservoir can take more than a year to fill after its dam is first closed.

The Grand Anicut in southern India is generally considered the world's oldest dam that still operates. Grand Anicut was constructed in the second century BC. It now impounds an irrigation network that includes roughly one million acres.

You can find many of the the world's newest reservoirs on LakeLubbers. Many of the world's oldest reservoirs appear on the last page of that list.


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Water Volume | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated volume of water that a lake contains -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. By this measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal.

You can find many of the the world's largest lakes (by water volume) on LakeLubbers.

Water Volume can be measured in acre-feet, in cubic miles, or in cubic kilometers. One acre-foot is the amount of water needed to cover one acre (43,560 square feet) to a depth of one foot. One cubic mile equals 3,379,200 acre-feet. One cubic kilometer equals 810,713 acre-feet.

1 acre-foot is equal to 325,851 US gallons. Siberia's Lake Baikal contains about 6,276,367,740,000,000 gallons of freshwater - nearly 1 million gallons for every living person on earth.

The other - and more widely used - measure of a lake's size is the lake's surface acreage. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is North America's Lake Superior.


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Maximum Depth | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated greatest depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. The world's deepest lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal; that lake's maximum depth is estimated at 5,314 feet.

You can find many of the the world's deepest lakes on LakeLubbers. If you select the last page of that list, you will find the (maximum depth of) the shallowest lakes in our database.


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Average Depth | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated average depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. If the water volume and surface area of a lake are known, an estimate of the lake's average depth can be calculated:

Water volume ÷ Surface Area = Average Depth

Example: 1,000,000 acre-feet ÷ 20,000 acres = 50 feet average depth


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Maximum Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's highest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can occur during flooding. A lake's highest possible maximum elevation is usually the top of the lake's dam or spillway.

At lakes that include residential development, government regulations usually forbid the construction of homes below a lake's maximum elevation.


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Minimum Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's lowest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can be reasonably expected to occur. Low lake levels can occur due to deliberate seasonal draw downs for irrigation or impending snow melt, reduced water inflows, drought and evaporation, residential or commercial water demands, and hydropower generation.

Some lakes' minimum and maximum elevations are virtually the same. Lakes that generate hydropower may vary by several feet - according to power demand. Lakes whose primary purpose is to prevent flooding can seasonally vary by 100 feet or more.

When some lakes reach their minimum elevation, their boat ramps may not be long enough to permit boat access - and boats docked on shallow parts of the lake may end up on dry ground. In those cases, kayakers and shore-based anglers may be among the few happy recreational users of the lake.


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Normal Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's normal water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level. For a reservoir, this water level is also known as "full pond" or "full pool".

You can find many of the world's highest-elevated lakes on LakeLubbers. Lakes with the lowest elevations (known by LakeLubbers) are shown on the final page of that list.


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Shoreline Length | LakeLubbers

This is the length of the exterior shoreline around a lake - measured at the lake's normal elevation. The shoreline length can be considerably shorter or longer when lake water levels are lower or higher than normal.

A lake with many coves has a much longer shoreline than a lake of similar surface area that is nearly circular in shape.

When known, the shoreline miles that we report in our statistics include only the lake's exterior shoreline, and exclude the shorelines of islands located within a lake's boundaries. In lakes with many islands, those islands' combined shorelines may exceed a lake's exterior shoreline.

You can find many of the world's longest-shoreline lakes on Lakelubbers.


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Surface Area | LakeLubbers

This is the area (acreage, square kilometers, etc.) of the top surface area of a lake - measured at a lake's normal elevation. The surface area can be considerably smaller or larger when lake levels are lower or higher than normal. North America's Lake Superior is the world's largest freshwater lake by this measure.

The other measure of a lake's size is the lake's water volume. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Lake Baikal in Siberia.

You can find many of the world's largest lakes (acres) on Lakelubbers. There is no widely-accepted minimum surface area that defines a lake. What Lakelubbers describes as a lake, you might call a pond. The smallest lake that Lakelubbers currently includes is Hawaii's 2-acre Lake Waiau.


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Water Level Control | LakeLubbers

This is the organization that controls water releases or outflows from the lake or reservoir. In the USA, this is often the US Army Corps of Engineers, a power company, a municipal water system, an irrigation district, or a paper manufacturing company. In the case of private or gated lakes, a homeowners' association may be the lake's controlling authority.

Many lakes cross borders, including North America's Great Lakes. The control of such lakes and their coveted freshwater may be amicably shared - or hotly disputed.

"Water wars" continue at many lakes as growing populations and crop irrigation needs compete for the freshwater that lakes contain.


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Lake Type | LakeLubbers

There are 3 basic types of lakes that are currently included on LakeLubbers. 2 types may be dammed or not dammed, producing 5 classifications.

- A Reservoir is a man-made freshwater lake that is usually created by damming rivers.

- A Natural Freshwater Lake occurs naturally - often by glacial activity - and has a salinity of less than 30 parts per thousand. It may be dammed to produce electricity or for other reasons.

- A Natural Saltwater Lake occurs naturally and has a salinity of more than 30 parts per thousand (ppt). It may be dammed.

"Brackish" water may be categorized as freshwater or saltwater, depending on its salt content (salinity). Oligohaline water has less than 15 ppt of salt. Mesohaline water has 15-29 ppt. Polyhaline has 30-335 ppt.


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