Gabčíkovo - Nagymaros Dams

Gabčíkovo - Nagymaros Dams

Gabčíkovo - Nagymaros Dams (more exactly Gabčíkovo - Nagymaros Waterworks) is a large barrage project on river Danube. Only a part of the project has been finished - under the name Gabčíkovo Dam/Waterworks.

Budapest Treaty

The project, involving Hungary and Czechoslovakia, was agreed on September 16 1977 ("Budapest Treaty"). The treaty envisioned a cross-border barrage system between the towns Gabčíkovo, Czechoslovakia and Nagymaros, Hungary. The dams would eliminate regular floodings (like those disastrous ones in 1954 and 1965) and provide clean source of electric power. They would also allow year-long navigability of the river and serve as a part of Rhine-Main-Danube Canal.

The plan was to divert part of the river into an artificial canal at Dunakiliti (a village in Hungary) to the hydroelectric power plant near Gabčíkovo (eight turbines, 720 MW). The canal would return the water into a deepened original riverbed and at Nagymaros a smaller dam and power-plant (158 MW) would be constructed. The plant in Gabčíkovo was to be a peak-power plant and the dam in Nagymaros, about 100 km downstream, was to limit fluctuations of the water level.

Protests in Hungary

In 1981 Hungary asked for slowdown of the project because of economic problems. In 1984 a movement protesting against the dam, the "Danubian Circle", was founded. The argument against the dam was danger to the environment and to the water supply of Budapest. After an intensive campaign the project became widely hated as a symbol of the old communist regime. In 1989 the Hungarian government decided to suspend it.

Limited project

The Czechoslovakian government, although being pressed to abandon the project, decided to switch to an alternative solution on smaller scale (known as "Variant C"). The artificial canal would start at Čunovo, part of the capital city Bratislava, and the Gabčíkovo power plant would operate in run-of-the-river mode with no water level fluctuation.

The construction started in 1991. In May 1992 Hungary terminated the treaty from 1977. In October 1992 diversion of a part of the water into the canal started. Both sides stood at their positions.

In 1993 the dispute was submitted to the International Court of Justice in The Hague. Hearings in the case were held between 3 March and 15 April 1997, and the Court paid a site visit (the first ever in its history) to the site of construction. In its sentence from September 1997, the Court stated that both sides breached their obligation and that the 1977 Budapest Treaty is still valid.

The Hungarian government was initially willing to continue with the Nagymaros part (or its equivalent) but abandoned the idea. In 1998 the Slovak government turned to the International Court, demanding the Nagymaros part to be built. The international dispute is still not solved as of 2006. [cite news|url= |title=Slovakia again discussing completion of Gabčíkovo-Nagymaros |work= The Slovak Spectator|accessdate=2008-02-23|date=2006-01-04]

In the meantime the "Variant C" construction continued. In 1992 the Čunovo reservoir was filled; the secondary structures (as the power-plant) were finished and made operational in 1996. The threat of ecological catastrophe did not materialize during the following years; on the contrary, the Danube floodplains surrounding the area have been saved from draining observed in the past.

Technical parameters

* The area of the Čunovo reservoir is 40 km², exclusively on Slovak side (the original Hrušov-Dunakiliti reservoir was to be 60 km²). The operational water level is 131.1 meters above sea level (minimal and maximum levels are 129 and 131.5 m respectively).
* The power station has eight vertical Kaplan turbines with runners 9.3 m in diameter and a maximum capacity of 90 MW each. Total capacity is 720 MW at operational discharge of 4000 m3/s. Water level differences are 24 and 12.88 m.
* The original river bed has a discharge of between 250 - 600 m3/s.
* Two navigation locks were built. A bypass canal will handle floods.
* The Gabčíkovo Hydroelectric Power Station produces 2600 GWh of electricity annually, making it the largest hydroelectric plant in Slovakia. It covers around 11% of electricity consumption of the country.


External links

* [ Documents about the Gabčíkovo dam and its impact] ( [ alternative link] )
* [ Details of the conflict over the project] (PDF)
* [ Bibliography on Water Resources and International Law] Peace Palace Library

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