In the autumn of 2023, the Municipality of Debrecen, in cooperation with a number of partners, will launch a campaign called “Water is our common treasure”, aimed at raising awareness of the importance of rainwater harvesting. Details are already available for residents of the affected neighbourhoods in Debrecen.
The initiative was presented at a press conference by the Mayor of Debrecen, László Papp, Deputy Mayor of Debrecen Ákos Balázs, Member of Parliament László Pósán and CEO of Debreceni Vízmű Zrt. Ferenc Gorján.
The mayor said that a new, very forward-looking and definitely worth highlighting new action on the topic of sustainability is now starting in the southern part of the city. In recent years, the city of Debrecen has put its environmental policy on a new footing, and a number of innovative solutions have been developed as part of this. The long-awaited Civaqua programme has been launched to improve the water supply to the city’s nature reserves and the city’s surface water system, and the “10,000 Trees for Debrecen” campaign to increase the city’s green spaces is underway. A reinforcement programme has also been launched. Institutions have been renovated to improve their energy efficiency, and a solar park has been commissioned in the past year.
He said that if 20 millimetres of rainfall falls in the city in 2 hours, this means a total of 400,000 cubic metres of rainwater. Most of this amount will be channelled out of the city through the sewage system. However, the future would be to try to retain this amount of rainwater. László Papp said that there are already tens of cubic metres of rainwater collection cisterns in the Great Forest, and they would like to build more of them in the city. These would provide irrigation water if needed.
The initiative involves the delivery of closed rainwater harvesting barrels with a capacity of 300 litres each to interested applicants in the southern part of the city. There are currently 485 barrels available, of which the municipality purchased 300 from its own resources, and 185 were purchased by the city thanks to the support of sponsoring companies. The sponsoring companies are CATL, Halms Hungary Kft, Synergy Construction Hungary Kft, Krones Hungary Kft, and FISS Automatika Kft.
The municipality can provide a total of 485 rainwater harvesting barrels for the people living in Epreskert, Tégláskert and Kerekestelep. If the number of requests exceeds the available quantity, a waiting list will be set up, as the aim is to continue this action, so that rainwater from the properties can be collected and used for irrigation.
Deputy Mayor Ákos Balázs stressed that in recent years, the city’s leadership has been proactive in promoting environmental protection. They also try to involve companies, businesses, communities and private individuals operating in the city. With the Sustainable Debrecen Award, the city recognises those companies that operate in an environmentally conscious manner and support environmental protection. With the Future of Debrecen movement, the municipality wants to involve the people of Debrecen in as many joint projects as possible, where they can try out what it is like to apply environmental solutions at home, in their own environment and in their families.
Applicants can find out which streets are eligible to apply, fill in and send in the application form, and watch short video clips on the usefulness of rainwater harvesting and rainwater harvesting barrels..
Registrants will receive an e-mail to let them know if their application has been successful and where and when they can collect their rainwater harvesting barrels.
Registration is open until 6th of September 2023.
The barrels are expected to be available for collection in the second half of September. Ákos Balázs indicated that in the future the city would like to set up a rainfall monitoring network with the involvement of the population, by distributing rain gauges and then launching more and more similar programmes.
László Pósán, Member of Parliament, said that the initiative expresses very well what is the heart and soul of Debrecen. Namely, how to combine the knowledge and values of the past with the development of today.
“For centuries, collecting rainwater has been a normal part of people’s everyday lives: our grandparents used to wash their crops in rainwater. This practice is a thing of the past, but rainwater can still be used for irrigation, as it was in the past. Debrecen is now combining this old knowledge with modern solutions, and if the city continues to do so successfully in the future, the specificity of Debrecen that has given it its value and uniqueness for centuries will be preserved,” he added.
Ferenc Gorján, CEO of Debrecen Vízmű Zrt., said that in the past decades, the planning of water utility systems in settlements, especially in large cities, has focused primarily on water damage prevention: the fastest and shortest possible drainage of rainwater. The climate is changing and water needs are changing, and people and decision-makers are becoming increasingly sensitive to this. Thus, the focus on stormwater management is increasingly shifting away from stormwater drainage. Retaining rainwater as efficiently as possible also saves energy, because less water in the sewers means fewer sump pumps and less risk of spillage.
“Water is our common resource” is a welcome initiative and a very good example of sustainable water management and municipal management, which could be a model for other municipalities to follow, he added.
In the framework of the event, Mayor Papp presented certificates of appreciation to the representatives of the companies supporting the project including Debrecen Vízmű Zrt. and EDC Debrecen Nonprofit Kft.
Source and photo credit: debrecen.hu