The beginnings of sewerage
The collection of harmful waters constitutes the task of each township and a condition to it becoming a metropolis. During the settlement development of Budapest exceeding one thousand five hundred years, the sewerage system and organization currently operating evolved from various methods. This technical-wise activity is an interesting chapter in the city history of Budapest.
"The Romans brought their high level water culture with them: water aqueducts, baths and sewers were built. In the 3rd century A.D., public buildings and residence houses had wash-out water closets. A sewer network collected the wastewater and rainwater and deflected them into the Danube. In the turbulent centuries of migrations, a great part of the Roman public utilities was destroyed."
One of the phenomena of the technical revolution of the Middle Ages was the spread of water conduits and water hoist structures. In Buda, first the water hoist structure of the royal castle (1416), then under the rule of king Mátyás, a water conduit operating according to the principle of communicating vessels was built. During this period, the lack of interest towards sewerage was in sharp contradiction with the inventive and varied solutions of water supply. Wastewater was flowing on the pavement of the streets, bearing the constant danger of epidemics.
Spare waters of the cities were deflected into the streams that crossed them, but these quickly became nosy marshes and thus represented the hotbed for cholera, which threatened with mass catastrophe. The regulation of the Rákos ditch was made in 1740, since the descent of the stream would not have been able to transport the wastewaters of the new town part installed outside of the city walls.
From the times preceding 1790, only little sewers remained apart from the red marble sewer section coming from the side of the Buda castle (Donáti street). In order to tackle epidemics occurring in the Middle Ages and then under the Turkish rule, some Hungarian cities issued decrees. They prescribed the houses and streets to be kept clean. They decreed the sweeping of yards and roads every Wednesday and Saturday, the transportation of waste outside the city, the cleaning of street sinkers and ditches with water.
Following the end of the one and a half century Turkish rule, there were 26 streets and two squares in the developing Pest in 1695, while Buda had 67 streets and 12 squares, in total 107 streets and squares. The removal of waste and wastewater did not cause much trouble to the inhabitants of the city at that time. The ditches and the Danube removed all wastes. In the inner parts, underground sewers had already appeared, first to collect rainwater, and wastewater later.
The first wastewater sewers in Budapest (1780-1868)
In the periods preceding the general sewerage of Budapest, whilst building sewers, the objective was to reach the Danube on the shortest possible track on the one hand and sewer cross sections were not built according to the actual needs, but were significantly oversized on the other hand. Among the Danube left bank sewers, the most ancient one is the sewer built in 1780 between Zsibárus and Kötő streets (currently called Párisi street, Pesti Barnabás street and Március 15. square), which deflected the wastewater of the Invalidus-house (today's Budapest Municipality) into the Danube. The sewer of Hal square (between the Danube and Irányi street) was built in the same period. The fact that people tried to hold off always resurging epidemics from the buildings by all means also contributed to the construction.
The history of the sewer construction of the Danube right-shore cannot be traced as accurately as for the Pest side. The sewerage of Óbuda evolved from the hillside water collection. In the Cserepes, Nagyszombat, Galagonya, Dereglye streets, Szépvölgyi street, Harcsa and Kavics streets, rainwater and wastewaters effluent from the buildings crowded up in the small area were collected by open ditches. A standard sewerage on both sides of the Danube did not evolve until the unification of the capital city.