Integrated Tisza River Basin Management Plan


Marieke van Nood1, Péter Kovács2, Peter Whalley3, Diana Heilmann4, Miodrag Milovanović5, Emilia Kunikova6, Graziella Jula7, Alexei Iarochevitch8
1 Co-chair of the ICPDR Tisza Group (DG Environment-European Commission)
2 Co-chair of the ICPDR Tisza Group (Hungarian Ministry of Rural Development)
3 Project Manager of the UNDP/GEF Tisza Project (ICPDR)
4 Project Technical Assistant of the UNDP/GEF Tisza Project (ICPDR)
5 National Expert (Jaroslav Černi Institute, Serbia)
6 National Expert (Slovak Water Research Institute)
7 National Expert (National Administration “Romanian Waters”)
8 National Expert (Centre for Water & Environmental Projects, Ukraine)


At the beginning of 2011, countries within the Tisza River Basin adopted the first Integrated Tisza River Basin Management Plan (ITRBM Plan). The ITRBM Plan compiles the results of seven years of work of the Tisza Group, which is an expert group of the International Commission for the Protection of the Danube River (ICPDR). The ITRBM Plan - technically and financially supported by the countries of the Tisza River Basin, the European Commission and the UNDP/GEF Tisza Project (ICPDR, 2011) - is one of the first river basin management plans that responds to EU Water Framework Directive objectives, takes into account the ICPDR Flood Action Programme, and reflects the principles of Integrated Water Resources Management (GWP, 2000). The ITRBM Plan introduces an updated and comprehensive analysis of pressures from pollution, river engineering works, floods and droughts. Furthermore, it provides an overview of the status of waters in the Tisza River Basin, and identifies the measures needed to reach good water status by 2015, as required by the EU Water Framework Directive.
Keywords: Tisza River Basin, River Basin Management Plan, Water Framework Directive




Basic Characteristics of the Tisza River Basin

The Tisza River is the longest tributary of the Danube River, which flows through five countries: Ukraine, Romania, Slovakia, Hungary and Serbia. The drainage area of the Tisza River Basin is 157,186 km2, and it is the largest sub-basin of the Danube River Basin (801,463 km2). It is home to approximately 14 million people. At its confluence with the Danube, the average flow of the Tisza is slightly over 800 m3/s. The Tisza River Basin is shown in Figure 1.

The Tisza River Basin can be divided into two main parts:
  • The mountainous Upper Tisza and its tributaries in Ukraine, Romania and the eastern part of the Slovakia; and
  • The lowland parts, mainly in Hungary (the Great Hungarian Plain-Alföld) and in Serbia, surrounded by the East-Slovak Plain, the Transcarpathian lowland (Ukraine), and the plains on the western fringes of Romania.

While the Tisza basin consists of two parts with different geographical characteristics, the river itself can be divided into three main parts:

  • The Upper Tisza, upstream from the mouth of the Somes/Szamos River;
  • The Middle Tisza in Hungary, which receives the largest right-hand tributaries: the Bodrog and Slaná/Sajó rivers, together with the Hornád/Hernád River, collect water from the Carpathian Mountains in Slovakia and Ukraine, and the Zagyva River drains the Mátra and Bükk Mountains, as well as the largest left-hand tributaries: the Somes/Szamos River, the Cris/Körös River System and the Mures/Maros River, draining Transylvania in Romania, and part of the Hungarian Great Plain;
  • The Lower Tisza (downstream from the mouth of the Mures/Maros River, where it receives the Bega/Begej River and other tributaries indirectly via the Danube-Tisza-Danube Canal System).