Project supports Hungary on the eve of EU accession


The first issue of Danube Watch last year brought information about a twinning project between Germany and Hungary that would help the soon-to-be EU member harmonise its monitoring system with the requirements of the EU Water Framework Directive. In this issue we bring you an update on the project as it entered its 6-months prolongation period

Credit: James Hunt
Some hurdles can be overcome - if fish can jump...

In May 2004 Hungary will, together with three other Danube Basin Countries, become a member of the European Union. As a consequence, the country must fulfil all the requirements of the EU Water Framework Directive, which - unlike e.g. the Urban Wastewater Directive - does not allow a generous timeframe for implementation. While the old member states had enough time to get familiar with the new Directive during the 1996-2000 conciliation period, the accession countries of 2004 did not enjoy the same privilege and might find this timeframe particularly challenging. To remedy the situation, in November 2002 Hungary launched a Twinning Project financed by EU-PHARE. For more than a year, a team of mainly German experts led by Stephan von Keitz has been assisting Hungary to prepare cost-effective systems for surface and groundwater monitoring. Von Keitz and his team also provide assistance in institutional capacity building and the fulfilment of reporting requirements.

Credit: James Hunt
Some hurdles can be overcome - if fish can jump...

“To achieve these objectives, it was important to closely co-operate with our Hungarian partners, such as the Ministry for Environment and Water, the Budapest University of Technology and Economics, and the Water Resources Research Centre VITUKI,” explains von Keitz. “In spite of Hungary's long tradition and experience in monitoring the quality of rivers, lakes and groundwater, there was still a need to adapt the existing monitoring system to the European water legislation to get a modern, multifunctional, flexible and costeffective water management tool,” von Keitz adds. The newly developed strategy will serve for both the acquisition of monitoring data and their management and reporting.

Credit: James Hunt
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A multi-step process
As a first step in translating the EU Water Framework Directive into national regulation, it was necessary to assist Hungary in the development of a typology, to delineate the country's surface and groundwater bodies and to decide which of these water bodies are at risk. All these obligations have to be reported to Brussels by March 2005.

Typology and reference conditions
Typology is important because it constitutes the basis for the description of type-specific reference conditions and assessment tools, the designation of water bodies, and the localisation of pressures and impacts, i.e. the identification of the sensitivity of a particular surface water type to different stressors. The Twinning Project team proposed that System B, used in most EU member states, also be used in Hungary because it allows the choice of additional parameters to the obligatory ones such as size, etc., and accurately reflects the reality by yielding biologically meaningful types. Together with their Hungarian partners, the Twinning Project experts developed a list of typologically relevant parameters (sub-eco-regions, physical and chemical factors) and prepared a manual that enabled the Hungarian experts to identify surface water types in Hungary. The development of a strategy for the definition of reference conditions and the identification of possible reference sites was discussed in two seminars on surface water typology run by German experts. It will be realized during the prolongation period.

Water body identification
The main objective of the WFD is to achieve a “good status” in all water bodies. Therefore, the definition of each water body plays an important role for all the next steps of the implementation period. In terms of WFD environmental objectives all waters have to be delineated referring to the category of water bodies. The German experts provided the Hungarian partners with intricatenesses and obstacles, which had occurred while identifying water bodies in Germany. Special emphasis was given to the fact that the water bodies should have a reasonable size since this helps to reduce administrative burdens. Since the delineation/ identification of all water bodies has to take place by December 2004 and be reported to the Commission by March 2005, it was a task of the Twinning Project team to provide assistance in the identification of significant groundwater as well as surface water bodies in Hungary. The first delineation led to a number of about 1000 water bodies. These water bodies will now be grouped to reduce their number. Furthermore the HMWB will be identified according to the CIS-approach. Since Hungary borders on as many as seven countries, special consideration was given to transboundary water bodies.

Analysis of the pressures and impacts
For the ImPress analysis, criteria were composed to identify human activities as pressures and impacts that put the Directives’ environmental objectives at risk. These lists put special emphasis on existing information, potentials of data flow and available capacities. The demonstration of these undertakings on the basis of case studies will lead to an identification of water bodies at risk. The detailed German criteria for given situations proved the principal applicability for Hungary.
Since the accessible biological data have proved to be insufficient, abiotic data will be used preliminarily. In the months to come, the Twinning Project team will make the finalization of this work its priority.

WFD implementation handbook
In order to facilitate a uniform and smooth approach of the WFD implementation in Hungary within the Directives’ tight deadlines, the Twinning Project team developed a WFD implementation handbook. This guidance document is designed as a tool for water managers to implement the WFD on national and regional level. It addresses all information that needs to be collected on a product basis and has the character of a loose-leaf compilation. The first edition gives special regard to activities, which have to be completed within the first four years of the implementation period. The guidance document takes the findings of the CIS Working Groups, the German LAWA Guide as well as recommendations of the ICPDR on the implementation of the WFD into consideration and will be continuously updated.

Product ready for Hungary - and Brussels
As a result of all these joint efforts, Hungary today has a developed typology exhibiting 20 stream types. This simple but meaningful typology is fully in accordance with the requirements of WFD. The surface and groundwater bodies are identified and their risk of failing to achieve the “good status” quality objective will soon be identified. In addition, the Project includes two service contracts with a total amount of euro 2,7m, which will enable Hungary to carry out biological and chemical assessment in accordance with the WFD requirements.

Nike Sommerwerk

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