The Lower-Tisza Water Directorate
1. General presentation ATIVIZIG
The Lower-Tisza District Water Directorate (ATIVIZIG) was founded in 1953.
The Water Directorate is a centralized state financed institute managed by the Ministry of Internal Affairs.
The intervention area of ATIVIZIG covers 8455 km2, which includes nearly the whole Chongrad District (Csongrád), almost half of the territory of Bekes District (Békés) and Bacs – Kiskun (Bács-Kiskun), as well as a part of Jasz-Nagykun-Szolnok Distict (Jász-Nagykun-Szolnok).
2. Tasks of the Directorate
Basic areas of activity of the Directorate include:
a) tasks related to harmful effects of waters and prevention of damage caused by harmful effects of waters (flood and inland waters control, damage prevention of water scarcity and damage prevention of water quality)
We live in the lowest part of Hungary (Tisasiget/Tiszasziget), so rivers Tisa (Tisza), Maros (Maros) and Triple Koros (Hármas-Körös) that run through the area potentially threaten the floodplain of 2210 km2. There are 31 settlements in the floodplain protected by dams (among them cities such as: Szeged, Mako, Hodmezovasarhely, Szentes and Chongrad, inhabited by 400 thousand people). Our rivers are characterized by extreme water-level variations. Floods have more than once caused critical situations in our regions. They typically last for several weeks or months and may reach the level of 5-6 meters above the protected area which places a considerable strain on embankments. The discrepancy between maximum and minimum water level is significant, it reaches 12m on the Tisa, and 7.5 m on the Maros. The flooding area is protected by a 322 km long first order defence line which is exclusively state-owned. We control a 65 km long part of a second order defence embankment. In the intervention area of the Directorate, the first order flood defence line is divided into eight flood defence lines, and within that into 46 monitoring areas. The average length of those areas is 7-8 km. The specific feature of our intervention area is that the floods that emerge in the Capathians reach the Lower Tisza within 1-3 weeks. However, flood waves of Maros and Koros may cause floods within shorter periods of time. Time advantage is favourable for protection planning and organisation, however, the durability of floods is the cause of the least favourable flooding situations in the whole of the Tisza river valley in Hungary. The Lower Tisza region has suffered the greatest risk during great floods specifically because of the long lasting floods.
Flood defence, sustainability and the development of the protective facilities are the most important activities of the Directorate. The Tisa flood capacity near Szeged is over 4000m3/s, and that of the Mures near Mako over 2000m3/s.
Inundation areas of the river basins can be found in the neighbouring countries as well, therefore, some parts of the embankment are of mutual benefit. As far as Hungary and Serbia are concerned, the length of the embankment is 106 km, while that of Hungary and Romania measures 156 km in length.
After the great floods in 1970, 2000 and 2006, the embankments around the Tisa have been greatly improved; a defence wall has been built on the bank in Szeged, the Szeged-Algyő embankment has been reinforced, as well as those on both sides of the Mures. Certain parts of our embankments are still not entirely according to standards – they are either not high enough or strong enough. The works on the embankment reinforcement are still in place – depending on available funds given by EU or Hungary.
Our Directory is in charge of 94,2 km flow of the river Tisa (starting at 159.6 to 253.8 km, having the river’s mouth as the starting measure point). The Tisa flows along the border for the latter 4.5 km, and the 32 km that are within the territory of Serbia from Kanjiža to the Mures mouth are of interest to both Serbia and Hungary. It can be said that, 41 km of the river Tisa that belongs to Serbia have completely been regulated, 8.7 km have been partially regulated, there are 23 km that need no regulation whatsoever, and 21.5 km are yet to be regulated.
Since the Damn at Novi Bečej was put to work in 1976, the fortification has had an impact on the stretch of the Tisa lower of Csongrad, resulting in the disappearance of the fords that used to exist. Our stretch is mostly in line with the regulations of the EGB IV level waterways, that is, it can accept the vessels ranging from 1000 to 1500 tons. There are only four critical curves, where the curve radius ranges from 250-380 metres, instead of regulatory 650 metres. Our Directory is in charge of managing the Szeged port and pool (Szegedi Medencés Kikötő). It stations the icebreakers “Jégtörő IV.” and “Jégvirág V.”, both the property of ATIVIZIG.
Our Directory is in charge of the river Maros along its whole flow through Hungary from 0.0 km to 49.6 km (the river’s mouth as the starting measure point). The stretch from Arad to the river’s mouth is of mutual interest, while the stretch from 28.4 km to 49.6 km (the river’s mouth as the starting measure point) is the border between Hungary and Romania. The part from 0.0 km to 5.0 km (the river’s mouth as the starting measure point) – due to the existence of the Damn in Novi Bečej – there are no limitations regarding the navigation; however after that point, all the way to Mako, the river is only partially navigable. Its parameters are in line with the regulations of the EGB I level waterways, which means only the vessels up to 250 tons can sail, and even they can only occasionally pass. The stretch above Mako is navigable solely by boats for the main part of the year.
Protection against Inland Waters
Due to the characteristics of our region, apart from floods, internal waters also pose a significant threat, especially to the agriculture, since they occasionally flood vast areas of land. One of the main objectives of the Direction is the development and maintenance of the internal waters sluices.
Within our intervention area, there are 7050 km of sluices, 1283 km of which is in state ownership.
We have 35 pumping stations which can transport 98 m3 of water per second. Pumping stations that improve water pressure can carry 20 m3/s, and those next to the rivers can transport 78 m3/s. These values are similar to those of the Tisa during low water levels. There are 47 permanent and temporary reservoirs which can hold 50 million m3 of inland waters.
An average area flooded by the inland waters is 10.800 ha (based on years of experience). The area that is severely affected is 2812 km2, most of which are the floodplains. Protection against internal waters is conducted within 8 sections, which implies 32 monitoring areas.
b) remediates in cases of the lack of water supply, with reference to state-owned water management facilities.
Our Directory is in charge of the part of Hungary which is affected the most by the lack of water and draughts. The area between the Danube and the Tisa is especially affected. Southern Great Plain is fertile soil, therefore its agriculture imposes certain demands regarding the lack of water and extreme water management issues. We meet these demands by employing and further developing the existing water systems. The water supply systems use the water from the Tisa, Mures and Hármas-Körös through 16 main pumps and transport the water into the reversible canals and main irrigation canals. This way, 50 – 100 million m3 of water is transported. Not only are the irrigation systems crucial for the water supply, but they play an important role in the fields of ecology and sport as well.
c) repairs the damage caused by degradation in water quality, which includes both operations management and performance of the activities.
Water quality protection
The part of the water quality protection tasks relate to repairing the damage caused by the water quality degradation, which consists of several phases: defence preparation, prevention from sudden pollution, detection, discovery and categorisation of sudden pollution, operational damage repair as well as procedures after remedies for the pollution.
Due to its geographical position, Hungary is at great risk of the presence of the sudden pollution originating from other countries. This is the reason why our waters have been degraded by overborder pollution, in many cases, when the possible water usage has been restricted. The task of VIZIG is operations management of the damage repair caused by sudden pollution.
d) manages and develops hydrographic network for detection, monitors water bodies, collects and processes hydrographic data.
Hydrographic network of our Directorate is characterised by the inspection stations at few but large rivers, as well the monitoring waterwells for monitoring the ground waters. Besides this, we manage numerous main and local stations, precipitation gauges, water meters and waterwells for ground water monitoring. Making sure that the directorate’s hydrographic network of nearly 300 main and 700 local stations functions, is a serious task, since these stations must be regularly controlled and maintained, the breakdowns must be fixed, and in the case of the stations lacking digital signalisation, the local data reading is necessary. As a result of the development projects which have been carried out in the last two decades, there is a situation in which all main stations of the utmost importance for the entire country have been equipped with the remote-controlled signalisation and a great number of waterwells monitoring surface and ground waters have been equipped with electronic devices. Additionally, the number of hydrometeorological stations equipped with remote-controlled signalisation has been increased. The significant amount of data measured at the stations with remote-controlled signalisation network is available on both internal directorate information system and the internet. Our operational data is sent to National Hydrological Service (Országos Vízjelző Szolgálat), water directorates in Tisa valley as well as to our partners in Romania and Serbia.
Along with the measuring and monitoring system for the potential drinking water reservoirs, the Directorate develops and maintains territorial system for ground water monitoring.
e) performs the tasks in relation to project planning which are executed with the use of resources gained from the European Union and in relation to central, tender and eminent government projects
European Union (EU) Calls for Proposals and Projects
Since Hungary is the state member of the EU, there is a great number of calls for proposals one may participate in. Some of our tasks are finding these tenders, preparation of tender documentation and submitting tender applications. Since 2015, more than 30 EU projects have been successfully carried out within the operational area of Directorate. In addition to this, we have successfully applied for various grants in the EU budget cycle for period 2014-2020, as a result of which the development projects worth 65 million EUR have been initiated in Lower Tisa Region.
f) performs tasks regarding river basin management
Development of river basin
Ground water resources deserve more attention. There have been problems with water balance at the bar between Danube and Tisa due to groundwater lowering. Drinking water supplies of the north parts of the Bekes County are provided from the reserves of groundwater alluvial fan of Maros (burdened with arsenic content), therefore the protection of these supplies is necessary. The government have taken measures for the protection of these water resources and the investments launched as a result of these measures are in progress. The communal use of thermal waters (water in the swimming pools, hot water for population, remote control heating) is important, moreover, its use in agriculture (for heating of horticulture and cattle farms) as well as in industry (heating of the buildings, technical water supplies) is also important. All of these result in great strain to land water resources. The use of groundwater resources can be decreased by providing the substitute from land water resources.
In terms of water protection policy, the Directorate cooperates as the part of communities’ activities in realisation of water management tasks, as well as in realisation of the agreements with the neighbouring countries and multilateral international cooperation.