A great part of Hungary in the centre of the Carpathian Basin is of flat and hilly character without
significant mountains. In this basin-type area marine and fluvial deposits, sometimes as thick
as several kms, cover the older rocks. The marine deposits situated at larger depth are mainly clays
and clayey marts without the possibility of abstracting any water from them. As the Pannonian Sea
turned into an inland lake, the rivers flowing into it deposited coarser sediments of a depth of sometimes
1 to 2 kms: the sequence of that time contains more sand and sandstone layers. In the Quaternary the
fluvial sedimentation was already the characteristic process with silty, sandy and gravel deposits
with a thickness of around 1 km. Fans of the rivers contain much gravel. Their thickness varies between
a few times ten meter and several hundred meters. Some rivers are running in these formations and their
water is in direct contact with the water contained by the gravel layers.
One can find water as old as the rocks which contain it only in a very small part of the formations introduced
above, e.g. in the confined geological structures settled in large depth. In case of marine sediments
these waters are of high salt content. Also hydrocarbons are accumulated in these closed geological
structures. However in a large portion of subsurface reservoirs water is in permanent movement,
it is being recharged from the ground surface, and moving toward the discharge areas at the surface.
The time of water exchange vary on a very wide scale from a few hours to several hundred thousands of
years. According to the radiocarbon tests the age of the water of drinking water quality stored in
the sediments in the basin-type areas is in the order of magnitude of thousand years, while the age
of thermal waters at larger depth may reach the one million year. In shallow groundwater contained
by the coarser sediments near the surface and in the bank-filtered waters along the rivers the few
days old rainwater and the water of the rivers are appearing together. At the average precipitation
between 500 and 700 mm/year prevailing in Hungary, infiltration is the highest in the karstic regions:
150 to 200 mm/year, in the basin-type areas of sandy topsoil it is 50 to 100 mm/year while it is only 5
to 10 mm/year or less in the case of finer loess-silty-clayey topsoil. It comes from the foregoing
that the flow velocity of groundwater is very low: it is in the order of magnitude ranging from 0.1 to
10 m/year as an average, however in coarser debris and in karstic areas it is higher; in karstic fissures
the flowing water travels several hundred meters per hour.
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General rules of environmental protection are set in the 53/1995 law that aims to develop harmonic
relation of humans and the environment, the aligned protection of the environment as a whole, its
elements and processes to ensure the long-term sustainability. The law contains the basic principles
of the environmental protection, its toolkit, responsibilities, and the rules of the uniform protection
of the environmental elements.
The 55/1994 law on agricultural lands regulates the utilisation of agricultural lands, and their
qualitative and quantitative protection. The owner/farmer of the agricultural land is obliged
to order a soil assessment/evaluation report and based on this should ask for permit from the local/regional
soil protection authority on soil utilisation methods. This permit declares the rules of the use
of waste water, sludge and other non-dangerous wastes in agricultural activities, the basics of
liquid manure spreading, water regulation activities, irrigation, and other soil protection and
soil condition improvement works. Furthermore, the law enacts that the government develops and
operates the national soil quality registry in the form of soil maps and other databases, and operates
a monitoring, controlling and information system to detect the changes in soil quality.
The 57/1995 law on water management deals with the surface and groundwater, natural aquifers,
surface water channels and riparian zones. It also regulates those activities that impact or alter
the quality of waters or the structure of aquifers, the utilisation of waters, protection of water
sustainability and water resources management. Finally, the law describes the principles of monitoring
and assessment of waters, the data collection, processing, and distribution procedures, the assessment
of the state of waters and research.
The 49/2001 (IV. 3.) Governmental Decree on the protection of waters against agricultural nitrate
pollution adopts the Nitrate Directive in the Hungarian legislation. This Decree determines the
definition of nitrate sensitive areas, identify the nitrate sensitive areas, defines the principles
of re-examination, and sets the unified, national action programme to protect waters. This action
programme consists of 4-year-long periods. The Decree outlines those deadlines, when all operational
or permitted animal farms have to comply with the Nitrate Directive. This Nitrate Decree also defines
the aspects of control and dissemination, and disposes the reporting to EU.
The 219/2004. (VII. 21.) Governmental Decree on the protection of ground waters has replaced the
33/2000 (III.17.) Governmental Decree. This new decree regulates the tasks and responsibilities
to achieve (i) the good status and sustainability of ground waters; (ii) the gradual decrease and
prevention of pollutions of ground waters, (iii) sustainable water use of ground water resources,
and (iv) the remediation of geological agent.
Government Decree No. 123/1997 (VII.18) on the protection of water resources, perspective water
resources, hydraulic establishments