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Case Study of the Day: Temporary Flood Water Storage in Agricultural Areas in the Middle Tisza River Basin – Hungary

Background: The increasing exposure to floods in the Tisza River floodplain has been a consequence of river regulation and land reclamation, which has necessitated an extensive flood defence and water management infrastructure.

About the Flood Water Storage System

  • The Tisza river drains the route from the Ukrainian Carpathian Mountains to meet with the River Danube in Serbia, the Tisza mainly flows through Hungary’s Great Pannonia plain, and to flow eventually into the Black Sea.

  • The topography of the Tisza river basin is characterised by high, narrow chains of mountains surrounding expansive, flat lowlands.
  • Most discharge is generated directly from rainfall, along with a contribution from both snowmelt and subsurface soil water. As a result, Serious floods can originate from the mountains when rainwater flows quickly down the slopes and accumulates in lowland areas.
    • The risk of floods has been exacerbated by deforestation in the region, along with changes in precipitation patterns due to Climate Change.
  • As a solution to the threat of floods, measures were taken in 2007, to make room for the river using agricultural areas as temporary storage reservoirs for containing peak flow during extreme events.
    • According to this plan, the area utilised for agricultural purposes in normal conditions, can be eventually flooded (intentionally and under controlled conditions) and utilised for temporary retention of flood waters in case of emergency.
    • A mechanism of economic compensation for the farmers involved in the construction of water retention reservoirs was put in place.
  • Eventually, the flood risk mitigation system, based on the temporary flood water storage in agricultural areas, proved to be extremely effective for the purposes of disaster risk reduction.

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