The Hungarian Union:

Chairman: Mr. László Domokos, member of Hungarian Parlament
Managing Chairman: Mr. Ferenc Fehér civ. eng.

Address: Fehérvári út 108-112. Budapest, Hungary
Post: H-1116 Budapest, Fehérvári út 108-112. Hungary
Phone: 36-1-203-2088
Fax: 36-1-371-0512

Hungarian water management at local level


The history of Hungarian water boards lasts for a period of almost 200 years. The first water board of Hungary was established in the year 1810. During the nineteenth century the main tasks of the water boards were river regulation and flood control (mostly along the river Tisza). Since the 1870s the construction of drainage works on the plains of Hungary started: construction of networks of canals and pumping stations. Arround the turn of the century the irrigation works started.
After the First World War there was a big change in the life of water boards. The number of water boards decresed and through redefinition of borders division in water systems took place. The most important tasks of the water boards in the inter-bellum were drainage and irrigation in agriculture. A start was made in the regulation of small rivers. The period after the Second World War was very dark for the Hungarian water boards. In the year of 1948 the nationalisation was carried out and until 1957 the Hungarian water boards did not exist. At the end of 1957, water boards in Hungary reappeared. The next 35 years gave stability to the water boards.Their tasks were closely related to extended national and cooperative agricultural enterprises. The most important tasks of the water boards during this period were drainage, irrigation and land reclamation. The number of the water boards stabilised after several merges to 67, in the 1990s.
The next big change in the life of Hungarian water boards took place in the period of 1992-1996. Reprivatisation in agriculture increased the number of agricultural enterprises. Their number increased from 1,500 in time of cooperatives and state farms, to about 1 million nowadays.

Present position of the water boards

After this change, local water management received new incentives. In 1995, a new Hungarian Water Act was ratified. The position of water boards was founded in 11 articles of this Water Act. Since 1998 the Hungarian water boards act under umbrella of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Develeopment. Their number is 82; the average size is close to 100,000 hectares. Some of the main tasks of the water boards during the last 6 years are:

  • the operation of canal and water course networks (38,000 km) and pumping station (310 stations);
  • the protection against excess water;
  • flood control of small rivers and streams;
  • operation of irrigation channels and pumps;
  • construction and operation of small reservoirs;
  • drainage of small settlements;
  • construction and maintenance of drainage canals.
  • Water board income

    The Hungarian water boards execute public tasks in the field of water quantity management. Public tasks are being financed by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development and by the local stakeholders. Stakeholders are: farmers, cooperatives, cities and municipalities. Besides, semi-commercial tasks are being executed, wich can contribute substantial to the total budget of water boards.
    The financial situation of Hungarian water boards is still sub-optimal. The insufficient income from local taxation and fees is partly due to a lack of a well-functioning cadastral system for property registration. The necessary income would be HUF 3,000/hectare. The reality shows an average of HUF 300/hectare. The support from the goverment is HUF 600/hectare. (HUF = Hungarian Forint)

    In the year of 2003 the income for water boards in the whole country came from:

  • local taxations and fees: HUF 2,000,000,000;
  • support of goverment: HUF 4,900,000,000;
  • other activity of water board (income): HUF 6,000,000,000 (construction works).
  • The Hungarian water boards would not be self-financing companies in the near future! The water boards need support from the goverment during a longer period.

    The union of water boards

    The Hungarian Union of water boards (VTOSZ = National Union of Water Management Associations) was established in 1992. The first union of Hungarian water boards was already established in 1846 and reorganized in 1878.
    The tasks of the Hungarian Union:

  • spokesman for the members;
  • service provider for the members;
  • employer's federation.
  • In 12 regional unions there are 82 water boards, 50 water management associations for water supply and wastewater canalisation and 8-10 service companies. The board of the Union has 13 members: one chairman and 12 delegates from 12 regions (two deputy chairmen from the delegates). The Union bureau consists of tree employees. The head the bureau is the Secretery General.

    General data

    Protected (interest) area: 8,000,000 hektare,
    Number of water boards: 82 boards,
    Total lenght of water courses and canals: 38,000 km,
    Number of pumping stations: 310 stations.