Debrecen Waterworks Ltd. also aims to be able to store as much rainwater as possible in the future. According to experts, there are several tools available to face the challenges of a changing climate.

Dehir’s vote on Debrecen’s green future was followed by a huge turnout, with people having the chance to express their views on the environmental measures that will shape the lives and future of the city’s residents until Wednesday last week. With nearly 60,000 votes cast, it is clear that water issues are the main concern of the locals.

On this occasion, Gyula Vida, the host of Debrecen Television’s Public Affairs Extra programme, talked about municipal water management and the possibilities of water conservation with his guests, Ferenc Gorján, the CEO of Debrecen Waterworks Ltd. and János Tamás, Professor of the Faculty of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences at the University of Debrecen.

To start with, Ferenc Gorján clarified some basic concepts related to water, which are often confused in public discourse.

“We consider the water base from which we extract the quality water that can be transformed into drinking water through various technological processes. This can be surface or groundwater, in the latter case we can talk about aquifers. They should not be confused with groundwater, which is a continuous body of water above the uppermost aquifer at a depth of 10 to 20 metres. Debrecen Waterworks Ltd. does not use groundwater. Groundwater is a continuous body of water between several impermeable layers, and the waterworks use this water at a depth of 110-210 metres,” the General Manager said.

The expert said that the city has access to surface water through the Eastern Main Canal, which was built out of River Tisza. A water purification plant was built on the main canal in the 1970s, and from there drinking water is piped to Debrecen via two pipelines.

An ongoing topic of discussion in Debrecen is whether the increased demand for industrial water is endangering the city’s aforementioned drinking water supply. 

“Water resource management is a very strictly regulated activity”, Ferenc Gorján pointed out. “Rainfall basically does four things: evaporates, is stored, infiltrates and runs off. These are the elements of the water balance ‘equation’. Infiltration feeds groundwater supplies, and it is strictly defined that this must not be reduced. The National Directorate General of Water Resources determines for the different companies, including us, the maximum amount that can be withdrawn that does not cause a reduction in water resources,” he said, and then turned to the issue of industrial sites.

“Of course, the people working there must have access to drinking water quality. But a significant proportion of the water used for industrial activities will be so-called grey water. The remaining part will be replaced from the water treatment plant on the Eastern Main Canal,”he stressed.

He added that he was not aware of any groundwater being used for industrial activities. 

Another common theme in the city is that groundwater extraction can cause subsidence.

“There have been cities in history that have sunk because of such activities, but Debrecen is not one of them,” János Tamás said. In the 70s and 80s, there was indeed an unsustainable water abstraction in Debrecen, and the Balmazújváros dam had not yet been built. Unfortunately, the old figures from 50 years ago are still in the public consciousness, and they are no longer valid. Nowadays, the subsidence of the soil is monitored using modern satellite technology and time-series analysis, and we have reliable data. So the assumption that the city of Debrecen is sinking is fortunately not true, based on the measurements of the last decades, ” he said.

The professor from the University of Debrecen mentioned that the fundamental questions of water management are how much water is needed, what quality and how often it is distributed. “There are still huge opportunities in certain aspects of refrigeration and manufacturing technology that companies will exploit too. We see that the public is very sensitive to the environmental and social impact of companies. Those not adapting to green technologies will be driven out of the market even in the medium term,” he said.

Ferenc Gorján said that the goal of Debrecen Waterworks Ltd. is to store as much rainfall as possible in the future. Debrecen’s average daily water demand is 40,000 cubic metres. In comparison, an average 15-minute summer shower of 20 millimetres drains 400,000 cubic metres of water. We want to capture as much of this as possible and use it when it is needed. Of Debrecen’s 1,000 kilometres of sewerage network, 30 percent is combined sewerage, meaning that rainfall and wastewater are sent to the water treatment plant together. The city is looking for funds to separate them as much as possible,” he said. 

János Tamás believes that there are several tools available to face the challenges of a changing climate.

“Green space management, built surfaces and green roofs are also very important. These are tools that need to be implemented in different ways in different parts of the city, so everyone has a major responsibility to create a ‘sponge city’,” he said. The concept of a “sponge city” allows municipalities to retain water rather than primarily channelling sudden heavy rainfall into the sewerage system. 

Finally, the professor of the University of Debrecen said that there had been visible progress in Debrecen in the last few years and it had not stopped. They are confident that the Environmental Audit Scheme can be launched this year to provide continuous data from next year. 

Source: dehir.hu

Author: Debrecen4U