A fully renovated Sió Lock is a tourist attraction

2024. 02. 16.

The Sió Canal and its immediate surroundings have become more modern, efficient, and spectacular, thanks to the joint European Union project of the General Directorate of Water Management and the Central Transdanubian Water Directorate. Within the framework of the Environmental and Energy Efficiency Operational Program (KEHOP), the more than seventy-year-old water release lock and ship lock in Siófok were completely renovated. Such a significant water management investment has not been made in the second most important tourist area of the country, Lake Balaton, since the first half of the last century.

The implementation of the project titled “Modernization of the Balaton Drainage System” became necessary not only due to the outdatedness of the system but also due to environmental challenges. In recent decades, the impacts of climate change have intensified, with more frequent occurrences of extreme weather phenomena, periods of precipitation shortage, or heavy rainfall within short periods, posing challenges to the regulation of the lake’s water level year after year. The water naturally flows into Lake Balaton, with its main tributary being the extremely low-flow Zala River. The lake can only release water through the Sió Canal, making the lock located here the sole means of artificially regulating the lake’s water level. In case of high water levels, excess water is discharged through the Sió Canal to protect the lower-lying settlements along the shore from flooding.

As part of the project, the original lock was completely dismantled, and a new, larger lock system with higher water permeability and with modern movable equipment was built in its place. This new system is capable of discharging excess water more quickly and flexibly when needed. Next to the water level control lock is the ship lock, primarily responsible for allowing ships to pass between Lake Balaton and the Sió Canal. Additionally, the ship lock serves as a secondary discharge lock and also functions as a reserve lock. During the investment, this area was also modernized, ensuring safer water traffic between the Sió Canal and Lake Balaton.

In addition to the construction of the lock system, another focus area of the project was the rehabilitation of the Sió Canal. Prior to the improvements, the water drainage system of the Sió Canal was not in adequate condition, hindering the effective operation of drainage ditches and watercourses, leading to inland water accumulation, which caused damage to the affected agricultural areas. After the reconstruction of the ship lock and the dredging and embankment relocation works carried out on the Sió Canal, not only were these problems addressed, but new opportunities were also opened up for water transport.

In addition to water management objectives, the development also served landscape architectural purposes. Thanks to the project, a previously industrial area has been transformed into a spectacular communal space in Siófok, meeting the expectations of modern times. The surroundings of the lock have been landscaped, and an observation tower has been built on top of the technical service building’s conference room. The newly created area not only provides opportunities for recreation but also allows visitors to gain insight into water management activities and the operation of the facilities. The new green area is expected to be open to visitors from spring 2024 onwards.

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The development was implemented from EU funding in the project KEHOP-1.3.0-15-2015-00007 under the Environmental and Energy Efficiency Operational Programme.

Find out more about the project in the Project Finder:Details

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