Flood Safety Projects along the Tisza river in Hungary


Article in Danube Watch 02/2006

Danube Watch 2 2006

Flood Safety Projects along the
Tisza river in Hungary


Between 1998 and 2001, four extraordinary floods occurred in the Tisza River Basin. Considering the magnitude of the endangered areas, the populations threatened, and the goods damaged, these floods broke every record in the upper and middle Tisza areas. Evaluation of the repeat floods made it clear that the method of heightening and strengthening dams to protect the country against floods should be reconsidered.

The ‘Improvement of the Vasarhelyi Plan’ (IVP) project has been developed, aiming to provide flood safety by storing excess water in reservoirs. The overall objective of the programme is to increase the discharge capacity of the flood bed together with the ecological revitalisation of the floodplain.

Preparatory studies have looked at ways to facilitate an increase in the discharge capacity of the flood bed through alteration of land use, and have identified around 30 sites which might be able to store excess water as reservoirs. Between 10 and 12 sites have been selected which have the total storage capacity of around 1,500 million cubic metres. According to preliminary calculations, this capacity is enough to decrease the peak levels of extreme floods by one metre all along the Hungarian section of the Tisza.

Prompted by the results of these extensive preparatory studies, the Hungarian government adopted a decision on the first stage of the IVP in 2003. During this first stage of the plan, six reservoirs (Cigand-Tiszakarád, Szamos-Kraszna-közi, Nagykunsági, Hanyi-Tiszsülyi, Tiszaroffi reservoirs and part of the Nagykunsági reservoir) will be built. In addition, the discharge capacity of the flood bed will be improved.

The IVP also aims to establish new landscape management in the territory of the reservoirs as well as regional, rural, and infrastructure development – which will result in a healthier Tisza River Basin.

Benedek Göncz is Head of Department of the Flood Defence Department at the Hungarian Ministry of Environment and Water.