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Lower Tisza

Introduction of the catchment area


Water network of Alsó-Tisza region
Hungary's total territory lies in the Danube Basin; therefore it is part of the Danube catchment area. The section of Tisza catchment area is 46.380 km2, where all in all 478 water bodies (333 freshwater and 145 still water) can be found. The country's lowest point (Szeged-Gyálarét 75,8 m) is also in this catchment area.


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Danube catchment area

Lower-Tisza District Water Directoriate performs his duties in the Tisza River sub-basin area. Three sub-basin areas belong within its competence: Kurca, right bank of the Lower Tisza and Maros, each is located on the Great Plain, in south-, south-east of Hungary.


Deep floodplain area

2811,8 km2

Highland area

5491,1 km2


8302,9 km2

Lower Tisza district has unique water supply conditions because of its specific natural, hydrological and geographical location. The spatial and temporal distribution of water resources does not match the demands. As a result, a significant flood and drought conflicts and damages may occur.

Tisza River is the recipient of water bodies in the catchment area.


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Catchment area of ATI-VIZIG


On the agricultural land of excellent quality irrigation has a long tradition, efficient water delivery systems help water transfer to the target area. Without water replacement systems, the area would be dehydrated and would have poor water runoff. Excess water usually occurs in spring, when the surface runoff is significant and the accumulated water is transmitted into the river by pumping. Significant proportion of water bodies dry up without water replacement. The water bodies have small and medium size water catchment area, have little gradient, since there is no significant level difference. The water levels and water outputs are insured by water supplementation, climatic conditions do not influence it. Water shortages are experienced in the southern sub-area.


Lower Tisza region's climate is temperate, moderately warm and is considered to be hot-dry. The number of annual sunny days is extremely high, around 2000-2100 hours per year. The annual average temperature is between 10,2 – 10,7 °C.


The average snow depth in winter period is between 28-35 cm.


Lower Tisza district is the country's lowest-lying area where the water flooding (flood, inland water, ground water) causes the main problems and because of that the main activities are prevention and protection against water damage. The previous practice of water management was draining of damaging water (in many places in the country this is the practice even today). It is apparent now that it does not serve the sustainable management of water resources.


Freshwater water bodies: On the territory of Lower- Tisza District there are 66 pieces of freshwater water bodies from which 20 pieces are artificial, these are mainly canals.


Stillwater water bodies: On the territory of Lower- Tisza District there are 24 pieces of stillwater water bodies. The majority of lakes are of natural origin.


Significantly modified water bodies: On the territory of Lower- Tisza District there are 49 pieces of significantly modified water bodies. These were established mainly to drain the inland water, some were used for irrigation, the other water bodies were used for fish farming, flood protection and water storage.


In the last decade the building of drainage networks has accelerated and the density of the network has grown significantly. Instead of surface water conservation, the drainage of gathered water from the land for farming had the highest priority. At the same time, as a result of intensive drainage, which was followed by long water shortage period the natural habitats of the territory and the surface area of alkali ponds were significantly degraded. The use of transverse waterworks objects became necessary for water retention which became especially important from the aspect of nature protection. Their use results in smoother flow regime because the resulting excess water is stored on site. With the coordinated operation of transverse waterworks objects it will become possible to preserve the ecosystems in protected areas with the conclusion of mobile organic and inorganic compounds and with balancing the fluctuating water regime of streams.


On the territory of Lower- Tisza District there are 114 settlements from which 19 has town rank and the area's population reaches approximately 754 thousand people.


We can say that the whole region of Lower Tisza is an agricultural area and therefore large peripheries of settlements are more typical. Number of the population steadily decreased starting from 1980'due to the large-scale migration, the small ability to keep a population and because of aging society.


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Water bodies in the catchment area of ATI-VIZIG


Water supply
All the 114 settlements belonging to our area of activity have public utility water supply systems, which are based on the stock of deep groundwater.

The level of water supply on our territory is cca. 88 % (percentage of the total of flats). The water quality in certain areas is characterized by a high concentration of arsenic, boron, ammonia, iron and manganese, as well as a methane gas content significantly exceeding the limit.


Our common task together with the local governments is to provide drinking water that meets the quality requirements defined by EU standards.


On the 8.455 km2 operational area of the directorate of Lower Tisza district the water supply system is based on the a ground water resources. The portion of water utility of housings is 90% on the territory of ATI-VIZIG. This value is lower than the national average. The quality of drinking water is problematic.


Wastewater treatment
Forty percent of the settlements in Lower Tisza district have wastewater drainage system.


The collected wastewater is treated on 34 different sewage plants and after the water is led into surface receiving water. From the 34 different sewage plants 17 of them does not meet the prescribed requirements. On the settlements where wastewater drainage system is not built the dried wastewater is polluting the groundwater and is contributing to the poor chemical status of groundwater bodies.


Water transportation
The section of river Tisza (159,6 river km–253,8 river km) managed by ATI-VIZIG is a water rout that is classified as IV. Class water way, while river Maros is only seasonally navigable.


Currently there is no waterway traffic on the river Maros in Lower Tisza district. On the river Tisza the possibility for waterway traffic is limited, utilization of goods and passenger transport is low, which can be in connection with the low number of ports (there are two ports in Szeged). The fairway between Csongrád and Algyo is not suitable for transport with more immersed ships. Due to the low traffic water quality degradation does not threaten the river.


On other water flows there is no possibility for water traffic, only small water vehicles can be used for recreational purposes.


Prominent features of the Lower Tisza Region are of high-quality farmlands, thermal water, abundant surface water resources, wild life management and protected of natural values.


Horticultural production plays an important role also. First of all arable crops are produced such as wheat, corn, sunflower, barley, alfalfa, sugar beets and hemp. In addition, firstlings, and open field vegetable production is done; one can mention the cultivation of spices and sweet peppers. The Great Plain's Wine Region centre can be found here as well. The climatic conditions and the outstanding number of sunshine hours are favourable; however the precipitation conditions are quite unfavourable. Watering is quite difficult in the regions far from Tisza and other water flows, so it is a challenge to solve this problem. In the region that is affected by water scarcity the alternative solution might be water-efficient irrigation, drought tolerant crops cultivation and fruit production.


Water withdrawals
The surface water withdrawal is primarily used for irrigation, as well as for operation of ponds and for industrial use.


The infrastructure of surface water withdrawal is connected with Maros and Tisza, from where it reaches the final consumer.


Water withdrawal of ground water serves for drinking water, irrigation and operation of the baths. Because of the decease of the resources of ground water and the uncertainty of resources of ground water coming from across the border, the use for irrigation is regulated.


However, use of groundwater resources is so significant, that it is extremely important that locally generated-natural, purified water resources have priority in use. On the basis of the available data we can say that annually 65 million m3 ground water is used in the Lower-Tisza district.


Ecological status of water bodies
A single stream received good rating, 25 pieces of bodies of water got moderate rating, and 29 pieces of bodies of water got low rating.


One water body is in excellent condition and three are in good condition. Other seven water bodies got average rating and two got bad rating.


Rehabilitation and conservational works became necessary in Lower-Tisza region in order to improve the environmental condition of water bodies on certain river sections, backwater sections and on certain drainage systems.


Water utilization
Our Directorate provides annually 30 million m3 of water for agricultural, ecological and recreational purposes through the irrigation canals under our management and the so-called multi-function canals.


On the operating territory of water management directorate 90% of the agricultural area is arable land where high-quality production work is done. Because of less precipitation than the national average it is necessary to ensure adequate quantity and quality of water for irrigation. On 29.640 hectares equipped for irrigation, the water for irrigation is produced via high performance pumping stations. From Tisza, Maros and Hármas-Körös 16 pieces of pumping stations raise the water for irrigation into the 230 km long double-acting and 66km long irrigation canal.


In the operational area of ATI-VIZIG there are 4.033 hectares of fishponds. The biggest problem is allocation of thermal water into surface water area, because the high salt content reduces the quality of usable water.


Flood control:
The extent of the area (ATIVIZIG catchment area) endangered by flood is 2210 km2. It is protected by a state-owned, 322 km long dyke system: 302 km soil, 6 km bulkhead and 14 km high level flood-free bank.


Length of the dyke system:
- along the Tisza river: 192 km,
- along the Hármas-Körös river: 36 km,
- along the Maros river: 95 km.


Number of works (floodgates, pipes) crossing the dyke managed by our directorate: 158

Number of flood control sections: 8.

Number of dyke-guards: 47.


The flood control catchment areas are partly on the territory of neighbouring countries, so the dyke-system is of common interest. Length of the dykes of common interest: 106 km (Hungary-Serbia), 156 km (Hungary-Romania).


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Flood plain area of ATI-VIZIG


Excess water control:
Length of the main canals managed by our directorate: 1282,8 km
Largest flood caused by excess waters: In 1966: 86.730 hectares
In 2000: 108.000 hectares
Number of excess water control districts: 8.
Number of territorial guards: 36.
Number of pumping stations: 34
Total capacity: 95,83 m3/s


The area especially endangered by excess surface waters is 2812 km2, most of which is in the flood control catchment area.


Because of the periods of drought that hit the region in the last few years we put an emphasis on the importance of water retention, and to this end we have built more sluices.


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Excess water inundation


Operation of the hydrographic monitoring system
Surface monitoring stations: 197
Groundwater wells: 293
Deep groundwater wells: 109
Hydro-meteorological stations: 97


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Monitoring network of ATI-VIZIG


On the operating territory of water management directorate 18 inland water systems can be found that is divided into 80 inland water catchment areas.


Name of the inland water system

Number of catchment areas

System belonging to ATIVIZIG km2

33. Dong-canal- Kecskemét inland water system

5 catchment areas


34. Dong-canal - Halas inland water system

8 catchment areas


35. Vidre-canal inland water system

4 catchment areas


36. Pecsora-Sövényház inland water system

3 catchment areas


37. Algyo inland water system

8 catchment areas


38. Tápé-Vesszos inland water system

2 catchment areas


39. Gyála inland water system

4 catchment areas


40. Körösér inland water system

3 catchment areas


76. Hármas-Körös left bank inland water system

3 catchment areas


77. Kurca inland water system

7 catchment areas


78. Mártély inland water system

there is no catchment area fragmentation


79. Tisza-Maroszug inland water system

10 catchment areas


80. Sámson inland water system

7 catchment areas


81. Freshwater inland water system

5 catchment areas


82. Újszeged inland water system

2 catchment areas


83. Maros left bank inland water system

5 catchment areas


84. Dunavölgy south inland water system



85. Dögös-Kákafok inland water system




On the territory of water management directorate there is 7052 km long channel network which has the following operator division:



ATIKÖVIZIG, of which


- double-acting


- inner area




Company and private


Municipality (periphery only)




Main features of water reservoirs, backwaters and fishponds that can be used for inland water storage on the territory of the directorate:


Number pieces

Complete volume

Capacity million m3

Area hectares

Permanent water reservoir















Seasonal water reservoir





















The expected impacts of climate change


Due to intensification of climate change, it can be expected that the negative consequences of droughts and sudden abundance of rain fall can emerge. In water management, the preparation for the effects of climate change means preparation for extreme hydro-meteorological events and extreme precipitation conditions which can on one hand increase flood risk and on the other hand it can result in droughts.


Changes in the last decade have shown that climate change fundamentally influences the quantitative status of surface and groundwater. The quantitative change of conditions can cause quality problems, in case we let in the same amount or more used water of anthropogenic origin into the decreasing natural water resources. The impact of climate change occurs almost immediately, because the surface water resources are reduced.


The high-temperature summer periods (the number of hot days increased) change the infiltration and runoff conditions. It becomes a priority task to withhold the water from rainfall, to ensure the water needs of existing wetland habitats, backwaters and standing waters, to ensure water for agricultural irrigation and to ensure adequate quantity and quality of water.


It is important to protect, to rehabilitate, to ensure adequate water supply, to achieve good ecological status (in line with the objectives of EU) of the wetland and aquatic habitats.


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Drought in ATI-VIZIG catchment area





This project is cofinanced by the ERDF and made possible by the INTERREG IVC programme


The Interregional Cooperation Programme INTERREG IVC, financed by the European Union’s Regional Development Fund, helps Regions of Europe work together to share experience and good practice in the areas of innovation, the knowledge economy, the environment and risk prevention. EUR 302 million is available for project funding but, more than that, a wealth of knowledge and potential solutions are also on hand for regional policy-makers.