The first sewerage regulation decree (1847)
For almost 50 years, palatine József, elected palatine overseer of Hungary in 1796 acted quite a lot in order to embellish the city. He personally brought a petition to the king on the embellishment of Pest in 1801. This petition contains two references to sewerage. In the chapter called construction of underground sewers and the removal of other obstacles, you can read: "For the purpose of cleanliness of the streets and the health of the population, each city needs underground sewers. House owners should be prompted to conduct small sinkers from their houses to the main sewers and to plug the cesspools, which contaminate the streets." (Palatine József's petition to the king, 1801.)
The tragic consequences of the 1838 great flood greatly contributed to the decision that the sewerage of the capital city must be resolved for the safety of the population and the protection of their belongings. Apart from the insufficiency of the protection dykes, the reason of the flood was that the sewers were not equipped with flood gates, thus water surged onto the areas behind the dykes through the sewers.
In 1847, the resident council sent the Council of the City of Pest its decision called Local authority decree rule towards the underground sewers to be built within the royal city of Pest. This is the first sewerage regulation decree was approved by the resident council on August 1671, 1847 through its decision number 32923 and it came into force on September 20 of the same year through the warrant number 1671.
The regulation decree categorises the various purpose sewers. This categorization generally subsists until today. It differentiates public and private sewers. The categorization of public sewers is the following: main sewer, street sewer, secondary sewer, water collector, which serve the collection of rainwater.
Paragraphs 3-4 of the regulation decree states that the construction of sewers is the exclusive right and obligation of the city authority and defines the obligations of the authorities while building sewers. The awarding of the works into contracts happens via auction (competitive bidding). (§ 5). According to § 6, the necessity of sewer construction shall be determined by the city council, in agreement with the electing citizenry. § 7 prescribes that simultaneously with the construction of the city sewers, the household connections must also be resolved.
§ 8 states that the costs of construction shall be borne by the owners of the buildings located along the street sewers. Paragraphs 9-15 contain dispositions on the distribution of the expenses and the payment ratios. The imposition on corner plots was also resolved. § 17 deals with the connection of private sewers into public sewers. According to § 19, in case of non-payment, the expenses can be enforced through "summary trials". The date of entry into force is determined by § 20.
The period preceding the general sewerage of Budapest (1848-1868)
The first official data on the length of the network in the history of the sewerage of Budapest originates from the 1860's.
On the right side of the Danube, this was 26,300 m,
on the left side of the Danube, this was 54,000 m,
In Budapest, this was 80,300 m in total.
During the period directly preceding the unification of the capital city, sewer construction only took place on the Pest side. The river constituted a natural boundary among the three cities located on the shores of the Danube. The rudimentary traffic conditions of the 18th century, especially during winter, did not ensure constant connection. When the Chain Bridge of István Széchenyi was handed over to traffic in 1849, the old obstacles were removed. On the eve of the opening, on June 24, 1849, the decree of Bertalan Szemere, Minister of Interior of the independent Hungary, makes proof of a remarkable forethought when he writes the followings: "...the capital city will only be enormous if there will be a directing power in it, it will only flourish in its being if it is managed in its efforts by one should, controlled by one will, it will only be happy if the different interests melt into a single interest. .. the Hungarian state can only have a single capital city, whose main force is given by Pest, whilst its history and memory comes from Buda."
Thus the effort to unify the part of the capital city started. Although the great achievements of the war of independence had fallen, absolutism could not stop development anymore. In the decades following the war of independence, the magistrates dedicated little time to sewerage. However, the situation changed during the period 1860-1873. During the years 1850-1870, works related to sewerage were executed at 60 locations in Pest, while this number reached 325 between 1871 and 1880.
The Embellishment Council operated until 1857, but its independent budget was terminated already in 1852. It is interesting that during its operation, the Council did not deal with Buda at all. During this period, even though some really strived to ameliorate the conditions, the general situation did not change significantly.
Public health conditions
Contemporary medical officer reports gave account of the 1831, 1854-55, 1866 and 1872-73 cholera epidemics. Doctor and university lecturer dr. József Fodor who played a predominant role in the modern history of the sewerage of the capital city pointed out that due to the high lying and polluted ground water (wet apartments, polluted well water, etc.), the strength of the urban population decreases and it becomes receptive to typhoid fever and cholera disease.
Fodor demonstrated that between 1869 and 77, while one cholera death was observed for 400 inhabitants in houses supplied with running water, one of 200 inhabitants of houses using well water died. The general death rate for 100,000 inhabitants in Budapest in 1870 was 4310, 3050 in Vienna (1869), 2460 in Paris (1869) and 3620 in London in 1855.
"Bazalgette-plan" 1869. The sewerage of many foreign big cities started in the middle of last century. Their effect arrived to Budapest as well. England was the first to learn the lessons of the 1831 great cholera epidemic. Through the passing of its first sewerage Public Health Act, it played a leading role. This is the reason why numerous English experts cooperated in the preparation of the first regulated sewerage designs of the cities.