The effects of climate change and altered hydrological conditions call for a paradigm shift in (rain) water management. This issue is currently regulated in several documents, of which the most important is the Kvassay Jenő Plan, the National Water Strategy, which identifies urban stormwater management as the most underdeveloped area of water management in Hungary and calls for a paradigm shift.

Our National Water Strategy, the Kvassay Jenő Plan (KJT), is the framework strategy and medium-term action plan for Hungarian water management up to 2030 and 2020.

(born 6 July 1850 in Buda – died 6 June 1919 in Budapest), engineer, creator of the modern Hungarian water service.

He graduated as a mechanical engineer in Pest, then studied agriculture and hydraulic engineering in Mosonmagyaróvár and Paris. After learning about the French and German water services, and returning home in 1878, he was entrusted with the creation and management of the Agricultural Water Service, the Institute of Cultural Engineering, based on his experiences abroad. The scope of its activities ranged from inland water drainage, river regulation, irrigation and drainage, to the supervision of fisheries and pond management. The institution was later merged into the National Water Construction Directorate, established in 1899 for the unified management of the country’s water affairs, headed by Kvassay until his retirement in 1918.

Kvassay, who managed the country’s water affairs for four decades, was actively involved in the creation of the first Water Act, which went a long way to regulating the legal uses of water, and in the creation and adoption of several water-related laws; the construction of the port of Fiume (until 1914); the regulation of the Upper Danube and the Iron Gate; the regulation of the Béga; the regulation of the Ráckeve (Soroksári) Danube (from 1904); the construction of the port of Csepel (from 1910). In 1890, he founded the Water Publications magazine, still in existence today. .

Among his literary works, the Agricultural Hydrology handbook (1880-82), . The entrance lock of the National and Free Port of Csepel is named Kvassay lock in his honour.

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Based on the exploration of the relationship between society and water, the aim of the KJT is to formulate measures to prevent the threatening water crisis, and to take the necessary measures against the signs of it in time.

Preserving water is an indispensable condition for life and security for future generations, and a resource for our economy. Sustainable and efficient water management is a cornerstone of our national strategy.

The KJT attaches particular importance to the protection of natural watercourses and the preservation of their natural state, as well as to the implementation of landscape management in agriculture that is better adapted to natural conditions, and therefore outlines a water management framework for these, adapted to the needs of nature conservation and ecology. This is in line with the National Environment Programme, the National Rural Strategy and the National Sustainable Development Strategy. The KJT also draws attention to the use of renewable energies, in line with the objectives of the National Energy Strategy.

Need for the KJT, challenges

Our earth's supply of fresh water is constant, but when projected per capita, the decline is dramatic. Over the last forty years, the global average of 13,000 cubic metres per capita per year has fallen to 5,000. Population trends and climate change threaten to create a global water crisis, posing an extraordinary challenge to water management.

To avoid and mitigate this, major world players are calling for joint action on water.

In the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) adopted by the UN in September 2015, water is a key priority for 2030, with the following areas:

  • improving water quality reducing pollution by eliminating the dumping of hazardous substances and chemicals and minimising their discharge, and by halving the current proportion of untreated wastewater and increasing the proportion of recycled water,
  • increase water efficiency in all sectors, making water abstraction and supply sustainable to tackle water scarcity,
  • implementation of integrated water management at all levels, including cross-border cooperation where appropriate,
  • protecting aquatic ecosystems, including mountains, forests, wetlands, rivers, standing waters and groundwater bodies,
  • expanding international cooperation and supporting capacity building in developing countries in water and sanitation activities and programmes,
  • supporting and strengthening local community participation to improve water management and sanitation.

Urban water management in the KJT

Municipal water management affects the population and households most directly. Drinking water supply is considered to be complete (all municipalities have a public drinking water supply, only 2% of the population has no access to piped drinking water). The quality of the drinking water supplied largely meets public health and safety requirements, and the suppliers are adequately prepared to ensure supply in the event of a breakdown.

The development of wastewater treatment will mean that the vast majority of wastewater discharged through public sewers will be sent to the receiving water after biological treatment. At the same time, treated wastewater discharged into small rivers and canals degrades water quality, even though the stock-boosting effect of such discharges is desirable. In many cases, the condition and loading of receptors is worse than the water quality from the treatment plant, regardless of whether there is another authorised discharger above the receptor, so it is a priority to detect illegal loading of receptors.

The principle of water saving is to use the water entering the household as much as possible, and this is most economical at the point of disposal. This issue is highlighted by the so-called. the use of grey water without environmental damage, mainly for agricultural water use and irrigation.

The management of urban stormwater (including retention and recycling), especially in the context of increasing rainfall intensity, is an increasingly serious challenge in terms of professional, institutional and financial resources. The deterioration of water utilities (e.g. the 250-year replacement cycle of the network) requires the urgent creation of a reconstruction fund to cover the cost of the reconstruction backlog. The sustainability gaps in the operation of outdated water utilities need to be urgently addressed. The availability of sufficient operational resources, the availability of funds for reconstruction, the implementation of the remaining improvements are the basic prerequisites for a balanced water supply and the economical and efficient use of groundwater resources, and the avoidance of a water crisis.

Territorial water management covers several specialised fields (flood relief and protection, plain water management, inland water management, upland water management; agricultural water management; regional water allocation, river management, waterways, hydropower utilisation). Their basic infrastructure is largely in place, but they are not utility-oriented, defensive and inflexible (especially in the face of climate change).

Billions are spent repeatedly on flood and inland water protection, while at the same time we suffer billions in drought damage. Therefore, within the framework of integrated water management, drainage (flood and inland water drainage) and water use need to be combined with water retention (and as part of this, wetland rehabilitation and enhancement, given the crucial importance of biodiversity conservation in halting the decline of wetlands and ecosystem services), which is also the most important means of avoiding a water crisis.

Budapest Precipitation Strategy

The elements of the LIFE in Runoff programme are aligned with the Metropolitan Precipitation Strategy, which in turn is included in the National Water Strategy, the 2nd National Water Strategy, the National Water Strategy and the National Water Strategy. The National Climate Change Strategy, the National Hydrological Research Programme of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, SECAP, the Environmental Protection Programme of Budapest 2021-2026 and the Radó Dezső Plan 2021 – Budapest Green Infrastructure Development and Maintenance Action Plan – follow the guidelines, targets and tools set out in the National Climate Change Strategy:

  • Improving drainage, delaying run-off, retaining and using an increasing proportion of rainwater
  • Reducing the urban heat island effect, improving water accessibility (for recreation)
  • Integrated management of green space, stormwater management and flood protection measures
  • Preparing for emergencies, raising awareness of social and individual responsibility, reviewing and amending the legislative environment, developing an economic incentive system, creating cooperation between stakeholders (e.g. local authorities)

Linking and scheduling district action plans

As part of the LIFE in Runoff project Budapest 7., 8. and 12. action plans have been agreed with the districts, the The main elements of the Metropolitan Strategy and the District Action Plans are the same. To build on each other:

  • the results of the hydrological-hydraulic modelling are available,
  • model results are sent to the districts, planned for 2024. at the beginning of the year,
  • 2024. involving an external expert at the beginning of the strategy
  • 2024. a metropolitan rainfall strategy (which can already be taken into account in the district environmental programmes / action plans) will be completed by mid-2010