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Hydrographic monitoring

By hydrographic monitoring we define a network of stations suitable for monitoring water-related characteristics (quantity, quality). The maps show the location of surface, near-surface (groundwater wells), groundwater (stratum water wells) and hydro meteorological stations in the country.

Collecting basic hydrological data, to survey and continuously record the Earth's natural and artificial water occurrences is regular or occasional activity. Its main aids are hydrological detection networks, which include detection sites (stations) equipped for regular (mostly daily) monitoring. These are of two main types: (1) spatial detection networks that record continuously distributed factors (precipitation, air temperature, etc.) on the Earth's surface, and (2) detection networks installed on water bodies (also called along lines for surface waters).

Development of the monitoring network

In the beginning, hydrographic observations to monitor the water level of rivers were limited to recording extreme watercourses. The exact height of the floods has been known on the Danube since 1775 and on the Tisza since 1816. Regular monitoring of river water flow happened in the first third of the 19th century.

In 1817, gauges (fixed equipment for metering water levels) were installed on the Danube in Bratislava and Buda, on the Tisza in 1832, in the section of Szeged (city in the south part of Hungary, along the Tisza). Regular readings of water meters started a few years later in 1823 and in 1833. The number of gauges grew rapidly year by year and by the turn of the century significantly exceeded one hundred. In 1886, as a result of the devastating floods of the previous decades, Parliament voted to set up the Hydrographic Department within the Ministry of Public Works and Transport. Already in the first year of its operation, the new organization started to process and publish the knowledge gathered so far. The organization recognized that a much larger slice of the water cycle needs to be explored, observations need to be extended to measure atmospheric elements, precipitation, evaporation, mapping riverbeds, floodplains and monitoring groundwater.

Today, the detection of several elements on a station type, resp. is also being measured. Examples are surface stations installed on rivers, where, in addition to water levels, discharge (rate of water flow), sediment transported by the river, water and air temperatures are measured, ice phenomena and river bed changes are monitored.

The water level of rivers depends on the amount of water transported in the riverbed. Therefore, experts attempted to determine the discharge at the end of the 18th century. Initially, discharge measurements were performed only on the Danube and the Tisza. Later, the measurements were extended to larger tributaries. Nowadays, practically every major watercourse and water use is measured.

Exploration of groundwater requires wells drilled in smaller and greater depths and in an appropriately dense network. The first experiments on groundwater monitoring in Hungary occurred at the end of the 19th century. The network covering the large area - between the Danube and the Tisza and the Trans-Tisza - was installed in the 1920s and 1930s.

The observation of aquifers located in the deeper layers of the earth's crust began much later, in the 1950s and 1960s of the 20th century with the construction of water supplies for small settlements. The primary reason for the regularization of the observations is that the drinking water supply of more than 90% of the settlements of Hungary is provided by the deep water layers.

The first station of the karst water monitoring network was also installed in the early 1950s.

Data collected by Hydrographic Monitoring

  • Water level
  • Water temperature
  • Water velocity
  • Discharge
  • Ice conditions
  • Sediment conditions
  • Groundwater level
  • Layer water level
  • Discharge of sources
  • Hydrometeorological measurements:
  • precipitation
  • layer of snow, snow water equivalent
  • air and water temperature
  • relative humidity
  • soil moisture

Operating the hydrographic monitor

The detection of hydrological data characterizing the hydrological conditions in Hungary, the collection and evaluation of the data are carried out by the territorially competent water directorates with the coordination of the General Directorate of Water Management, previously with the participation of VITUKI (Vízgazdálkodási Tudományos Kutató Intézet – Scientific Research Institute of Water Management) experts on a case-by-case basis.

The national hydrographic station network has been set up to measure the detection elements that are not only necessary but also reliable with national regulations, with proper maintenance of the station and compliance with the technological rules of the measurement technical regulations.

Hydrographic observations and measurements at the base stations providing a national and regional overview, as well as at local plant management and plant and study stations for research purposes. The data measured and detected on the core network are processed according to uniform principles.

Surface stations - Water level measurement


Hydrographic stations – surface waters, water level measuring stations

Nearly 350 surface base stations and more than 1,700 operating stations exist and operate with continuous water level detection, of which more than 410 are remotely measured. In addition, there are more than 800 other water level detection stations (plant station for floods, study station, etc.).

Surface stations - discharge measurement

Hydrographic stations – surface water flow, water temperature measuring stations

The location of water flow monitoring stations currently exceeds 380, and the number of continuous water temperature monitoring stations is around 150.

Water flow measurement

Hydrometeorological stations

Hydrometeorological stations

There are nearly 500 hydrometeorological stations in the country with continuous precipitation detection.

Hydrometeorological station

Stations near the surface

Hydrographic stations – near-surface waters (groundwater well) water level measuring stations

Continuous groundwater level monitoring is performed at more than 1,500 near-surface base stations and more than 1,300 operating stations, of which more than 380 wells are remotely measured.

Groundwater well

Underground stations

Hydrographic stations – groundwater level stations

Continuous groundwater level detection is performed at more than 550 underground main stations and more than 160 operational stations, of which only 4 are remotely measured.