The evolution of flood protection

The evolution of flood protection in Budapest

With its length of 2860 km, the Danube is Europes second longest river. Its mid-water runoff is 2,400 m3/sec, its 1% runoff is 9,000 m3/sec, its current, standard flood water level, since the icy flood of 1876, is 8.67 m in Budapest.

The water level changes of the river can exceed 8 m, the value of the 24 hour flood can even reach 2 m. 

The drainage area until the Budapest section is 183,250 km2, almost double of the total surface of the country. 

During the years passed from 1012 to 1838, 54 significant floods have been recorded, but we know little more of these than the year. Regular records only exist since the 18th century. 

Before the regulation, an approximately 1 km wide reef, the Kopaszi and Nyúlfutási reef was observed at todays Lágymányos. These, and the Csepel island meant an obstacle to the passing of ice in spring, due to which icy floods regularly occurred. During the second third of the 18th century Óbuda, Csepel and Tétény were resettled, which all evolved in the lower lying, flood-endangered areas. 

The icy floods of 1775 and 1779 prompted the management of the city to build the first protection works. 

The Vác great dyke between todays Nyugati square and Lehel square, the Soroksár dyke from Boráros square to Haller street, as well as the so-called wooden dyke along todays Közraktár street to Fővám square were built after 1775. 

After 1800, the Tüköri dyke was built on the track of Falk Miksa street and Szt. István boulevard, while the Vác dyke was prolonged until the City Park. 

The citys biggest tragedy was the great flood of 1838. 

1838. The National Construction Authority had a plan prepared for the arrangement of the Danube section neighbouring the city.
1840. On the basis of Act IV, a parliamentary committee was formed in the matter of flood protection.
1853-59. The quay on both sides of the Chain Bridge was completed.
1865. Ferenc Reitter published his book on the regulation of the Danubes Pest-Buda section.
1860-67. The elevated quay between the Hungarian Academy of Science and todays Eötvös square was built.
1871-75. The quays in Pest from the Margaret bridge to Fővám square and in Buda until the Rudas bath were completed. The Soroksár Danube branch was closed via the so-called Gubacsi barrage. On the Buda side, from todays Szt. Gellért square to Kondorosi street, a parallel work was built in the riverbed, thus the width of the river was divided in two and the reefs disappeared.
In the 19th century, there were freely effluent ditches and wastewater sewers on both sides of the river. In case of high water level, the Danube flooded the cellars of houses and the lower lying areas through these. Since wastewaters could not pass in such cases, epidemics occurred. For the purpose of wastewater collection complying with public health, the method of separating sewers from the Danube and of pumping waters coming into the sewers had to be developed.
1871. The Danube-shore main sewer between Nagy Híd street (Vígadó square) and Mészáros street (Vámház boulevard) was completed, which discharged into the Danube at Fővám square after uniting the city centre estuaries. The pumping station built at the estuary was the capital citys first pumping station.
1879-84. In Pest, the quay was further built until the south railway bridge, while the Filatori dyke was completed for the protection of Óbuda along todays Bogdáni út – Hévizi út.
1880. Trough its decree number 162 dated March 3, the city ordered its (first) decree called "On the precautionary measures against water damages in Budapest".
1885. The first national level regulation on flood protection was passed through the Water Legal Act number XXIII of 1885.
1890. The capital city elevated the supporting walls of the inner quays until a water level of 10 m. This is the standard level of the 1867 icy flood, to which a 1.33 metre safety height was added. This rule is still valid when defining the height of main protection lines.
1893. The Ferencváros Pump Station is commissioned, making possible the rocketing increase of the sewerage of the area delimited by the Great Boulevard.
1897. The Council of the Capital City passed a flood protection decree.
1900-1909. New quay sections were built in front of the Technical University and above the Margaret bridge, in Újpest.
1940-41. The Albertfalva protection dyke was built along Budafoki street.
1940. During the icy flood reaching its highest level of 824 cm in March, the blowing up of the ice obstacle created in the Budafok stricture was first tried out.
1948. The Megyer protection dyke was built parallel to the outer Váci street.
1953-54. Instead of the old Vizafogó-dyke, a shore protection work of rubble coating was built from Dráva street to the estuary of the Rákos-stream. A protection dyke was built along Nánási út - Királyok útja, which had to be significantly reinforced during the 1965 flood. Currently the replacement of this section via the construction of a new protection structure is on the agenda.
1965. The flood lasting 113 days reached a higher level than ever before during ice-free floods in a length of 390 km out of the Danubes total Hungarian length of 417 km, and challenged the protection structures longer than before. The sixth flood wave passed on June 18, 1965 with its highest level at 845 cm. During the flood, the Római-part holiday area had to be completely evacuated in North-Buda, while the left-shore dyke of the Aranyhegy stream had to be reinforced. The dyke located along Nánási út - Királyok útja also had to be reinforced.
The dyke at the Danube-estate in Budatétény did not provide sufficient protection to some 400 buildings located in front of the main protection line, thus the dyke was widened to 4 m with the help of machines.
In North-Pest, the right-shore dyke of the Szilas stream was mounted by the water between Váci út and the Óceán ditch. A final round ditch was built with a height of 920 cm for the protection of the surface water works. Although the protection structure of the Margaret island provided sufficient protection, but surging water flooded some lower lying areas of the island. The fight took place via the sandbag underpinning of the dyke and the creation of a counter-pressurizing basin in the area between the dyke and the hotel, and surging water could be kept under the floor level of the Great Hotel via appropriate pumping.
1980-82. The first section of the final protection structure of the Római-bank was completed, which replaced the Királyok út dyke from Pünkösdfürdő street to the boundary of the city.
The dykes of the railways spreading out of the city always constituted an integral part of the flood protection system. The line of the North Cargo Station was the Viktória dyke, while the Esztergom railway dyke protected Óbuda and the dyke of the south railway protected Nagytétény.
1990-92. The new, incoming section of road 6 was completed, which took over the flood protection functions of the south railway from Növény street to the south city boundary.
2003-04. The protection structures were reinforced at numerous locations after the 2002 flood experiences. The land filling serving the reinforcement of the round dyke of the North-Pest Wastewater Treatment Plant was completed, as well as the anti-leakage protection of dyke I of Római-bank, its reinforcement via parapet walls in the Árpád bridge station of the Szentendre local train and the completion of the Ferencváros shore wall until Hajóállomás street.
2005. Connected to the incoming section of road 6, the reinforcement of the round dyke of the Budatétény Danube estate was finished, providing a flood protection safety equalling that of the other part of the city.
2007. Although the protection works supported the highest ice-free flood load ever in 2006, we have performed further reinforcements at some points on the flood protection line. Along dyke I of Római-bank, in a length of 900 m, we have built a pressurizing hard shoulder, reinforced the foundations of the road gates at several points and widened the so-called Megyer dyke located along the outer Váci street.
During the development of the city, greater attention is given to unbuilt or eliminated industrial areas located along the Danube, as well as to floodplains. The planned investments and those currently under way are closely connected to the further development of the flood protection structures. Such a development was completed from the Újpest bay to the Rákos stream. (Marinapart). The reconsidered utilization of the river bank areas of the Lágymányos bay is also under way. Our experts cooperated in all cases in the preparation and realization of the developments, fully enforcing the aspects of flood protection safety.