DESCRIPTION OF THE STUDY AREA
The Hungarian pilot area of the DEEPWATER-CE project is located in the South-Eastern part of the country, on the Maros alluvial fan between two major rivers: Körös and Maros. The Maros river, originating from the Carpathian Mountains in Romania, has a 51.2 km long Hungarian section. The flow direction of the river has been changing significantly in the last 5,000 years, which resulted in its recent location outside and far from the earlier deposited alluvium. Our pilot area is situated on this alluvial fan of the ancient Maros River.
The location (circa 1,800 km2) was selected based on the results of climate models, as well as geological and hydrogeological factors. The region is uniquely suited for agricultural purposes. Most of the area is covered by agricultural land (about 93%), while the land covered by settlements is relatively small (less than 5%). Its 4-5 urban settlements, characterized by large outskirts, have a relatively small population number (circa 30,000 people).
The area has a low relief with a limited river network, and it is one of the warmest regions in Hungary during the summer period.
The summer heat is expected to further intensify because of the climate change. For this reason, the demand for irrigation is ever-increasing, and irrigation water cannot be supplied from current sources in the long term. Due to intensive abstractions, hydrogeological models detected a small groundwater level decline (0.5-1.0 m) which is expected to intensify by 2027 (2-4 m). If water abstraction for irrigation purposes takes place in an uncontrolled way or in an excessive manner, it can endanger the drinking water supplies in the long run.
In this region, the main source of water for irrigation is generally surface water, supplemented by groundwater. Irrigation water should be increasingly gained from locally stored rainwater or groundwater abstracted from shallow and not from deeper aquifers which being used as drinking water reserves. In this way, sustainable water use can be achieved, especially with regards to agricultural water withdrawal during periods of water scarcity thus contributing to the protection of the vulnerable drinking water storage aquifers.