International Commission on Irrigation & Drainage Commission Interationale des Irrigation et du Drainage

Danube Valley: History of Irrigation, Drainage and Flood Control
Danube Valley: History of Irrigation, Drainage and Flood Control
Author: Edited by G. Csek? and L. Hayde
Year: 2004, ISBN: 81-85068-85-2
Type: Special Publication, Format: Print
River Danube, also called variously as Donau, Dunaj, Duna, Dunav or Dunarea in different countries, originates in the high Schwarzwald massif and flows for 2,857 km across Europe to meet the Black Sea and traverses on its way through glacier-covered mountains, karst formations, forests, highlands and uplands, plateaus with deeply carved river valleys and plains as an international waterway connecting nine (previously seven) countries. With its 817,000 sq km catchment area, it is ranked 25th in the world and length- and discharge wise the second largest river (after Volga) in Europe, crossing 22 geographical latitudes joining nine countries - Austria, Bulgaria, erstwhile Czechoslovakia (covering Bohemia and Slovakia since 1993), Germany, Hungary, Romania and former Yugoslavia (covering Croatia and Serbia since 1989). The rich, fertile basin has been the centre of attraction for the trading nations, as also for the conquerors and nomads since the earliest times. In the 8th to 7th century BC, Phenicians, Egyptians, and Greeks entered the Danube estuary initiating trade contacts with the local population. In the 6th century BC, the Persian monarch, Darius the First, attempted to occupy the territories adjacent to lower Danube basin. Alexander the Great of Macedonia attempted its occupation in 334 BC. In the first century AD, the upper Danube formed a part of Roman Empire. In the years 101 - 106 AD, the Roman Emperor Traianus defeated the Dacian tribes who were settled in the lower Danube basin. Up to the year 271 AD when Romans retreated, water use for agriculture had started. During 6th to 17th century, irrigation techniques and water mills saw a marked development, though complex water capturing projects for new agricultural lands could be possible only towards the end of 19th century. The earliest measures of hydraulic engineering on the Danube have been recorded by or attributed to the monasteries of Niederaltelch (founded by monks in 731) and Oberalteich. Meadow irrigation in the idyllic tributary valley of the Lauchert in Germany goes back to 16th century. The oldest known document on irrigation regulation originates from the year 1584. Numerous documents and plans for meadow irrigation are preserved from the 19th century. In Bulgaria, agriculture became the main occupation of the people during 9th ? 11th century. The Byzantine rule in 11th ? 12th century encouraged agriculture up to 1396, when its decline fragmented the region. The uprising of 1876 in Bulgaria marked the beginning of organised rice agriculture. The drainage activities were started here in 1920 and river training in 1927. Water syndicates were subsequently constituted. Bulgaria today has a highly developed scientific base for agriculture. Austria?s oldest irrigation canal of the 12th century was called ?Kehrbach? connecting the Leitha River at Wiener Neustadt. Old irrigation systems, mostly built along natural gradients, can be found in Lower Austria in the Waldviertel region and the Amstetten district. The practice of irrigation in Nitra River Valley during 1615 - 1620 is evidenced by the first report of irrigation of the year 1673 in Bohemia part of erstwhile Czechoslovakia, even though the drainage of swamps and peat bogs started in 10th century. The flood control measures in Czechoslovakia were initiated through Bel? canal (1440), L?nsky canal (1450), Golden channel (1506 - 1520), Opatovicky canal (1554) and Nov? Reka channel (1585 - 1590). Bulk of water regulation, flood control and drainage works in Hungary was completed in the third and fourth centuries. The initiation of flood control program for Tisza River from 1830 and its tributaries in 1890?s was necessitated due to increase in population and need for improved river based transportation in Hungary. Large scale drainage projects in Hungary actually started in 1880-1890. At that time, about 2,300 km of drainage canals in the Danube valley and 3,800 km in the Tisza valley drained harmful excess waters. The canal network length doubled in the following decade and 103 pumping stations supported drainage activities. Yugoslavia?s Pannonian Basin is reported to be the oldest region where agriculture was practiced. Years 1818 - 1820 marked the construction of dykes on the left of Tisza River and the first water cooperative came to be formed in 1845. The first water act was promulgated in 1869. In Romania, plant cultivation was practiced in the south-west of the Carpathian ? Danubian - Pontic zone from the end of the 6th millennium and the beginning of 5th century BC simultaneously with the first Neolithic expansion. In advanced Neolithic period, human traction was replaced by bovine traction, deploying cows, being more docile, rather than bulls. Oldest dams attested archaeologically in Romania are the earth dams forming ponds on the minor hydrographical network on the south-west Transylvania plain. This book presents a chronological evolution of the history, art, science and technique of irrigation, drainage and flood management in the riparian countries of Danube River, viz., Austria, Germany, former Czechoslovakia, Hungary, former Yugoslavia, Bulgaria and Romania from the olden times to the period up to 1980.

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