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In embrace of the Carpathian Mountains, Hungary has a peculiar geographical and hydrographical feature, which causes that the activity of water management and water right has a significant and highly valuable tradition.

In historic times, during the reign of the queen Maria Theresa, for the initiation of „Szatmár” county, the XIVth law in the year 1751 was released. This was the first national law in order to stop the flood damages and to improve the navigation in Hungary.  The hydrographic conditions of the Carpathian Basin, and especially the deteriorated status of the Great Hungarian Plain following the Turkish rule, made it necessary to revitalize large areas. Since it required a competent expert, II. Joseph established the “Institutum Geometrico – Hydrotechnicum” in 1782, which in his name bears surveying and water engineering. Exceeding the privilege of military engineers until then, it became the world's first civil engineering training institution. This is, where the emblematic figures of the treasury, county and corporation, "mappings" and "water regulations" came from, István Vedres, József Beszédes, Pál Vásárhelyi.  Budapest University of Technology and Economics is the official successor of this institute

Subsequently the water Directorates gradually developed and became increasingly important.

The General Directorate of Water Management (OVF) is an independently operating institute and a central governmental body under the direction of the Minister of Interior. Its headquarter is in Budapest. 

Activities of the General Directorate of Water Management (OVF) cover the whole country. It coordinates the professional activities of the 12 local water directorates in Hungary The Water Directorates have been organized for catchment areas and not for administrative regions and areas and their operational areas have not changed in the past for more than six decades.

A significant part of its expert team is supported by the representatives of the water management specialities and the experts and engineers assisting them in their tasks. In this way, the cooperation of many specialities and disciplines, from engineer and hydrologist to economist to computer scientist, provides the framework for the high-level activities of the General Directorate of Water Management (OVF).


Hungary is the only country in Europe that is located in its entirety in the basin of the river Danube. An optimal water management – either we examine the flood protection or the water supply service – can be fulfilled only by looking at the integrated river basin management. For this very reason, the General Directorate of Water Management (OVF) believes that it is highly important for the institute to keep a good and fruitful cooperation with the neighbouring countries.

The General Directorate of Water Management manages the professional duties of the following tasks:


  • coordinates the flood damage related tasks in the plains, mountainous and hilly areas, the agricultural water supply; urban water management; as well as the flood control and drainage and the local water damage tasks,
  • provides the operation of the National Technical Coordinating Body, as well as the Central Duty
  • directs, coordinates and controls the professional activities of the water directorates.
  • directs and coordinates the Vasarhelyi Plan’s Further Development (VTT) and other EU funded major projects of water related investment.
  • directs and coordinates the operational tasks in connection with the central water records and the information systems,
  • assumes the control over the professional activities of the water directorates concerning the management system in state-owned waters or economic conditions underlying their operation, also sets-up the national and regional water management strategy, plans and carries out the tasks of the international water management concept,
  • determines the flood control and water management concept and also the strategy, work out a set of national and regional water damage control, water management programs and development plans, arranges their implementation and evaluation,
  • supervises the availability of provided human resources for flood protection and the training of the defending personnel against any flood events,
  • participates in transboundary related tasks and in any arising international cooperation,
  • works on the direction and coordination of all of the tasks arising by the construction, development and management of protection systems,
  • participates in giving any information on a national level about any water damage protection.


The OVF and the Regional Directorates emphasis on scientific work. The OVF cooperates with educational institutions at various levels in order to provide a specialist in the water sector, participates in the development of vocational education training plans and supports the training activities of educational institutions.