In our country, 95 percent of water needs are covered from underground reserves.
If we examine the effects of climate change, either locally or globally, the question of water management quickly comes up. Considering the ecological aspects, as laymen we first think of the most obvious problems, such as the continuous depletion of surface fresh water supplies, rivers and lakes, the melting of the Arctic ice masses, the warming of the oceans and their impact on the living world. However, from the point of view of water supply, the condition of our water resources located below the surface is a significantly more important issue.
While globally half of our drinking water is extracted from the surface, in Europe this proportion is 75 percent, and in our country it is 95 percent. The reason for this is that our surface waters are already so polluted that they can only be purified to drinking water quality with an extremely expensive process. About the issue Péter Szűcs, head of the Department of Hydrogeology and Engineering Geology of the University of Miskolc, vice-rector of the university, corresponding member of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences gave a lecture this week as part of the Science Festival program series, wrote the Qubit.
If we continue to examine the subject from the point of view of an uninformed person, we see that the 8 million cubic kilometers of water lurking globally under the earth’s surface should be more than enough to satisfy the 4,000 cubic kilometers of annual water needs of 8 billion people without question. However, anyone who sees even a little behind the scenes beyond the data knows that, unfortunately, this quantity is often not available to us in space and time according to the emerging needs.
Since we cannot see the processes below the surface, it is difficult to imagine what is going on there, but to highlight the problem, it is enough to be aware of the fact that water knows no national borders. More than half of the larger bodies of water under our country are shared with one of our neighbors, which makes cooperation essential, but our situation is also made unique by the fact that we are located in the most closed basin on Earth, the Carpathian basin. The waters flowing in from the north, west and east also leave the country at the southern border. This confinement, especially due to the Alps, can also be observed below the surface.
Two-thirds of the water extracted from global underground reserves is used for irrigation in Asia, but due to the growing needs of industry and the obsolescence of drinking water networks, this amount is constantly increasing, which results in the depletion of the supply in the long term. There is a natural rate of replenishment of the water in these layers, which if exceeded, the process becomes unsustainable. In order to keep the reins in hand, these processes must be constantly monitored. In our country, this is a relatively well-served task, which is why we know that there are serious problems between the Danube and Tisza, in Nyírség and Hajdúság due to the continuous, slow depletion of your stocks.
The University of Miskolc is looking for a solution The INNOVÍZ project also focuses on three priority areas: these are a examination of the effects of extreme weather conditions, the factors inhibiting groundwater circulation, and the exploration and minimization of network losses.
In the last 2-3 decades, an extremely harmful phenomenon can be observed in the dynamics of precipitation. The annual amount has not changed much, but the larger amounts that often fall suddenly cannot seep into the ground at an adequate pace, so they only raise the surface water level temporarily, but the underground ones do not benefit from this. Among other things, the INNOVÍZ project tries to deal with this problem by looking for the right way to artificially replenish groundwater.
Another serious problem that needs to be solved is soil erosion. In the eastern regions of the country, as a result of agricultural cultivation and the load of tractors, the land has been compacted in such a way that it is not able to properly pass the precipitation, nor the water from irrigation. An answer to this phenomenon must also be found in order to remedy the problem.
In the framework of the project, an innovative tool was used to uncover the shortcomings of the water network system. In addition to the traditional acoustic fault finding, satellite images were also used for the research in the areas of the Capital and Miskolc Water Works. Although this is only a band-aid in the treatment of the problem, it is certainly suitable for drawing attention to the seriousness of the situation.
By the way, by renovating the water network, it would be possible to take advantage of the opportunities arising from the altitude conditions. If some elements of a water network could be delivered from a sufficiently high point to other places, a significant amount of electricity could be produced. Of course, you don’t have to think of megawatts here, but a few hundred kilowatts can be well utilized as clean energy.