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Project Objective
The project aims at improving the water quality of the Danube River and the Black Sea by reducing nutrient discharge from Budapest, which is the largest source of nutrient discharge in Hungary, and by increasing the nutrient trapping capacity of the Gemenc and Beda-Karapancsa wetlands, situated in the lower Hungarian part of the Danube River. The Project is also expected to serve as a model for similar nutrient reduction initiatives in Hungary and other Danube basin countries. The Project delivers on the Government’s commitments under the Danube Conventions and other international agreements for the protection of the Danube River and the Black Sea and represents a substantial step toward Hungary’s compliance with EU Directives. The total cost of the project is US$32 million, including a US$12.5 million grant from the Global Environment Facility (GEF). The GEF Grant is complemented by a US$7.7 million reallocation from the Bank-financed Municipal Wastewater Project and counterpart funding of about US$10.4 million from the municipality of Budapest and US$1.4 million from the Ministry of Environment and Water.
Components of the Project
The Project consists of three main components. The first component aims at upgrading the North Budapest Wastewater Treatment Plant to the tertiary level of treatment, allowing a 32 percent reduction of nitrogen loads and 17 percent of phosphorus loads. The second component supports the rehabilitation of about 10,000 hectares of wetlands within the Gemenc and Beda-Karapancsa areas of the Duna-Drava National Park, to increase by almost 50 percent their nitrogen and phosphorus retention capacity from Danube River waters. A comprehensive monitoring and evaluation system for water quality and environmental health is being developed in parallel. The third component focuses on dissemination activities to foster replication in Hungary or in other parts of the Danube River basin, linking with the GEF Danube and Black Sea Regional projects and Danube Convention-supported and GEF-supported dissemination activities. Overall, the Project is expected to reduce nutrient discharge into the Danube River by about 4,000 tons per year of nitrogen and 260 tons per year of phosphorus.
Major Results and Benefits of the Project
“In addition to helping reduce nutrients discharged from Hungarian sources into the Danube River, the Project is expected to have an important demonstration effect in Hungary and in the region. It will allow measurement of the environmental and economic benefits of two very different nutrient reduction interventions—wastewater treatment and wetland rehabilitation. Hopefully it will result in a replicable model for the treatment of non-point sources of nutrient pollution, which will potentially benefit the entire Danube-Black Sea basin,” said Xavier Chauvot de Beauchêne, former head of the World Bank team designing the Project. Budapest is the biggest point source contributor of nutrients along the entire Danube. Being part of the European Union since 2004 Hungary is proceeding rapidly with establishment of the regulatory framework to comply with EU requirements. The Municipality of Budapest has therefore prepared an ambitious long-term plan for waste water collection and treatment of the metropolis envisaging investments of several billion Euro. The WB/GEF project comprises one limb of a hole chain of infrastructure investments in the water sector, which all together will have a significant impact on the water quality of the Danube and finally of the Black Sea. The riverine wetlands Beda and Karapancsa within the Duna- Drava National Park belong to Europe’s most important natural or close to natural alluvial ecosystems, where river dynamics form a unique pattern of habitats with a flora and fauna composition that has become rare elsewhere. However, through human intervention along the entire Danube during the last century the hydrography of the river has changed. This leads in total to a reduced inundation period and water level accompanied with the loss of typical wetland communities as well as a reduction of the nutrient retention capacity. The WB/GEF Project envisages therefore to design and execute intervention measures that improve the water regime of the two areas. The measures are expected to have two major beneficial outcomes, namely an increased nutrient retention capacity as well as the conservation of wetland habitats and biodiversity. The physical interventions will be supplemented by improvements of the protected areas management also funded under the Project.
Project movie
Sustainability and Donor Cooperation
The Municipality of Budapest has demonstrated its commitment to the Project objectives through the implementation of the baseline investments and the approval of additional direct financial support beyond the GEF contribution. In addition, the construction of the Central Budapest Waste Water Treatment Plant is included in the long-term comprehensive plan for wastewater collection and treatment in Budapest. Tariff increases enabled the Municipality to cover capital and operational expenses requirements. In the case of the Duna-Drava National Park component, the long-term sustainability of Project benefits is related to the adequate management and maintenance of the restored wetlands in the Gemenc and Beda-Karapancsa areas. The Government of Hungary is committed to provide sufficient institutional and financial resources for the management and maintenance of the restored wetlands. The Project also aims at strengthening the capacities of local and regional implementing institutions and central administrations to ensure that they acquire the needed managerial and technical skills and capabilities. Project sustainability is further enhanced by actively involving local institutions during Project implementation and by the preparation of a Special Area Management Plan, involving stakeholders in the process. The dissemination and replication component of the Project is intended to provide the means for developing an M&E system to properly assess Project results. Comprehensive impact evaluation studies are being developed, as a basis for the dissemination and replication activities. In particular, the component finances workshops, public communication campaigns and promotion of cost effective solutions for nutrient reduction in other areas of Hungary and in other riparian countries.

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