“Reality slaps us in the face” – says Sándor Bardóczi, chief landscape architect of Budapest, who says that the lack of water could be a disaster, big trouble is lurking
Currently, water restrictions have been ordered in more than twenty settlements around Budapest, i.e. watering of gardens has been prohibited. In the higher areas of Szentendre and Solymár, a serious water shortage has developed in recent days, one of the region’s members of parliament, Tamás Menczer, called what happened in Solymár a disaster. Sándor Bardóczi, Budapest’s chief landscape architect and chief gardener, sounded the alarm. He claims that soon the entire agglomeration and even Budapest may face a severe water shortage. The specialist didn’t just rant, he also gave an example of how to remedy the problem.
The member of parliament is talking about a disaster situation
In the past week, we reported in several articles that there was no piped water for days in the higher-lying parts of Solymár and Szentendre. It was not possible to wash, wash or even flush the toilet. Anyone who has ever faced what it’s like to stop drinking water, which they thought was natural, knows what a great treasure water is, especially if it flows from the tap. The seriousness of the situation in Solymár is shown by the fact that the region’s Fidesz member of parliament, Tamás Menczer, spoke of a catastrophic situation and then alerted the Hungarian Defense Forces, so that after several days the water could finally flow again from the dry taps. The representative said: “The fundamental reason for the water shortage is the explosive growth of the population in Solymár and the entire agglomeration. The development of the infrastructure has not kept up with the growth of the population, and now we are facing this in connection with the water shortage.” You can access the latest news from BudaPestkörnyeke.hu by clicking here.
Overbuildings, outdated plumbing system
This is essentially what the opposition mayor of Szentendre, Zsolt Fülöp, said in an interview with the BudaPestkörnyéke.hu news portal, who said: “Now it’s really clear what problems overbuilding and outdated water systems can cause.” According to the Szentendre city manager, no one has to prove that the development is necessary in the agglomeration. Szentendre, for example, is supplied by the pipe network built in the 60s. The mayor claims that the system is so vulnerable that 40 percent of the capacity is lost, which means that so much water does not reach the consumer.
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300,000 people moved to the agglomeration
Most recently, Sándor Bardóczi, Budapest’s chief landscape architect and titular associate professor of Budapest’s Corvinus University, spoke about the water shortage. As: “Budapest’s water supply in the second half of the 20th century was designed to provide 2.5 million people with sufficient drinking water until the first half of the 21st century. Related to this, Budapest lost 300,000 people out of its 2 million inhabitants in the last 30 years, they moved out into the green and filled most of the agglomeration settlements, which were not infrastructurally prepared to receive such a large crowd. Now this process is backfiring in local water shortages.”
Green field investments
The chief landscape architect adds a on his social page in a published post, that the green field constructions are too simple, and in some cases they were too subsidized by the state subsidies of the loan constructions and the CSOK. “Meanwhile, the rehabilitation within the city has been completely pushed into the background. In the rehabilitated districts of Budapest, there are the public utilities, there is the road network, and in the background there are tentacle wells, water reservoirs, and lifts that produce reliably in the background. And in the agglomeration, they are not yet there in the wasteland reclassified from the forests of Buda and Pilis, closed gardens, and the meadows and fields of the Pest plain. This water crisis is now the direct consequences of this short-sighted development policy.”
Budapest drinks from the Danube
According to Bardóczi, the climate crisis will bring something else. “Few people know, but Budapest mostly drinks from the Danube. Nature filters the water of the Danube through its gravel terraces, and it is produced by tentacle wells established on Szentendrei Island, Margaret Island, and Csepel Island, and then delivered to the consumer by built-up pressure pipelines. This water is so clean that you just have to try it and de-manganize it before use, and the aging of the pipe network justifies the occasional chlorination that is built into the drinking water supply as extra security.”
The water of the Danube is a great treasure
The chief landscape architect continues: “So the water of the Danube is a great treasure, but if the river dries up, this treasure is lost.” There are also threats to its quality. For example, if someone dreams of bridges (Váci Bridge, Kisoroszi Bridge, Szigetmonostori Bridge, Szentendre Bridge, Megyer Wing Bridge) here, it not only improves transportation, but also makes the construction of Szentendre Island profitable, which has a risk of pollution serving an agglomeration of almost two million settlements for drinking water supply. This is why Budapest opposes these bridges.
A changing world
Budapest’s chief landscape architect brings up an American example regarding the water shortage: “It is very exciting what is happening today in Las Vegas, Palm Springs, all of California and Nevada, which is already reaching a permanent water shortage in addition to a very fat population. Part of the American dream is unlimited consumption, and one of the daily symbols of the lifestyle is the garden-city, lawned front yard with automatic irrigation and wide garage driveway. This world is changing. In Las Vegas, compensation is paid to those garden owners who want to replace extremely water-intensive lawns with desert gardens, so-called desert landscape, and instead of a swimming pool, a water reservoir will be established. The water of the Colorado River, which currently supplies several states, is dangerously low, the river is dying because of the excessive waste of water.”
Reality slaps us in the face too
According to Sándor Bardóczi, water shortages are already a daily reality in some cities in California. “It’s still an interesting sensation for us, but the trends show that it will reach us too, and reality will hit us in the face. Today in Solymár, tomorrow this change could be the daily experience of the entire agglomeration, which if not followed by adaptation, could end in disaster.” – adds Bardóczi, who also says in the post that part of the Wildflower Budapest program is to find native species that can withstand drought better than traditional grass species.
So it seems that the lack of water and what they think about it brought the opposition and the governing parties together. In essence, everyone says that the inaction of the past decades has led to the fact that today many people smoke and politicians run after the events. Tamás Menczer, member of parliament from Fidesz, put it this way in a recent press conference in Solymár: “Neither ten nor three years ago, it was not the government that decided by how much the population of a settlement increased, which areas should be included in the territory, which areas should be sold. It was all a municipal decision.”
Everyone has a story
The representative also said that he spoke with many mayors about the increase in the population and that every mayor has a story about how 10 years ago his predecessor sold the areas of the settlement without asking the investor for a sidewalk, water, or sewer network. The situation did not arise in a few days, moreover, it has much more to do with them than with the government, explained the representative.
Are the decision makers taking action?
It seems that everyone, regardless of party affiliation, knows the problem and its causes. Presumably, the solution proposals will already have a party position, and the real action depends on whether the current government wants to reach out and, if so, what it will do to ensure that piped drinking water supply is ensured in all settlements around Budapest. You can access the latest news from BudaPestkörnyeke.hu by clicking here.
Featured image: Sándor Bardóczi, chief landscape architect of Budapest – Source: Youtube/ÓbudaTV