In the autumn of 2023, the Municipality of Debrecen, together with the Future of Debrecen movement, launched the “Water is our common treasure” programme, which aims to raise awareness of the importance of rainwater collection. As a Green Codex action, the distribution of rainwater collection barrels will now be launched again.

The news was announced by Mayor of Debrecen László Papp, Deputy Mayor Ákos Balázs, Leader of the Fidesz-KDNP Faction of the Debrecen Assembly Viktor Papp and Municipal Representative Erzsébet Katona, at a press conference in Vénkerti Community Garden on the 22nd of May 2024.

As László Papp said, the past years have been very instructive in many ways. For example, 2022 was a very rainfall-poor year, which made them aware that we have the opportunity and the potential to do something to value and conserve rainfall and put it at the service of the city. Each major rainfall or downpour brings tens of thousands of cubic metres of rainfall to different areas of the city. Because there are so many paved surfaces, this rainfall can leave the city in seconds. But it doesn’t have to be this way. This is why the idea of trying to retain and recycle rainwater in the city was born during the preparation of the Green Codex. There are several ways of doing this. The simplest is to collect rainwater at home and use it to water the garden. Last summer, the municipality distributed 500 rainwater harvesting containers to people in the south of the city. The programme was so successful that the city is already planning to budget for a similar, but larger-scale initiative in its 2024 budget. 

At present, 6,500 rainwater collection barrels can be distributed, at a total cost of HUF 117 million. The interest has far exceeded this amount, but the public procurement budget has only allowed for the purchase of so many rainwater harvesting barrels. So those who cannot get a rainwater harvesting barrel now can expect one next year. According to mayor Papp, the barrels distributed last year and those to be distributed this year can store a total of nearly 2.2 million litres of water at a time. This will allow households in Debrecen to save a lot of piped water previously used for watering. This initiative will also increase people’s sense of responsibility and make them more aware of their water consumption behaviour, the mayor pointed out. 

Ákos Balázs, Deputy Mayor, said that the Green Codex was recently adopted by the City Assembly and the mutually reinforcing measures contained in the Codex are being implemented step by step by the municipality. A few years ago, home composting bins were provided to citizens in need. Even back then, it was clear that the people of Debrecen were receptive to environmental protection and new gardening methods, and this action was the impetus for Debrecen’s new environmental policy announced in 2019. The experiences and knowledge of the past years have been incorporated into the Green Codex, which was prepared together with the University of Debrecen and the members of the Green Working Group, as it is very important to pass on good practices and involve more people in building a green, sustainable city. One of these good practices is the creation of community gardens, which the municipality intends to increase in the future as part of the Green Codex measures. Good practices in water management include the Civaqua programme and rainwater harvesting. The rainwater harvesting barrels now being distributed can store a total of more than 15 000 of Debrecen’s daily water needs, which demonstrates the scale and value of the project.

According to Ákos Balázs, since rainwater can be used to irrigate vegetables in community gardens or home gardens, which can be put on the tables of Debrecen citizens as healthy food, it is worth thinking about this process “from rainwater to the table”. The deputy mayor stressed that if anyone is interested in how to start collecting rainwater, gardening and growing healthy food, the Future Of Debrecen movement is happy to help and share its knowledge. This could also be a very important step in the implementation of the Green Codex 50 action. Cooperation and joint thinking are also needed to make Debrecen a successful candidate for the European Green Capital.

Viktor Papp, the leader of the Fidesz-KDNP parliamentary group in the Debrecen assembly, recalled that the application for rainwater collection barrels started on 18 April, and the 5,500 barrels planned at that time were already reserved by 20 April. The increased quantity of 6,500 barrels proved to be too little, as a total of 8,800 registrations were received during the application period which ended on 30 April. Today, 22 May, all 6,500 successful applicants will be notified by e-mail to the e-mail address they provided when they registered, indicating exactly when and where they can collect their rainwater harvester. The handover will take place between 27 May and 8 June in a total of 25 locations. If citzens are unable to collect your rainwater harvester on the specified date, they can fill in the proxy form, which will also be sent to them by e-mail. Vikor Papp asked those taking delivery to arrive on time and with a properly prepared vehicle to ensure that the process runs smoothly and does not take too long.He stressed that since 1998 they have always launched initiatives that have served and continue to serve the interests and benefit of the people of Debrecen, and he is confident that they will be able to continue their work. He thanked the people of Debrecen for their ability to work together to beautify and keep the city of Debrecen clean.

“It is a great pleasure that after the residents of the southern districts, this year the citizens of the other garden areas of the city can also apply for rainwater collectors. This is also true for constituency 21, which is a very large and complex area, including Kismacs, Nagymacs, Ondód, the Akadémiakert and the Tócóliget. In this area, 404 people requested rainwater harvesting barrels, a number that would probably have increased, but the places filled up very quickly. The local population is very environmentally aware and has successfully carried out a number of environmental actions. They have collected and continue to collect plastic caps, used cooking oil, and have distributed composting bins, all in the spirit of selective waste collection and charitable causes. The successful applicants are now eagerly waiting for the rainwater collectors, which will be available for collection by city district, “ Municipal Representative Erzsébet Katona said.


Author: Debrecen4U