Water. A natural resource so vital for our planet that there can be no life without it. Over decades water security became more important and as the Maltese population grew exponentially, the dependence on it increased.
Throughout the years, Malta had to become creative to respond to growing demand as groundwater – the only naturally renewable freshwater resource we have – was no longer enough. Malta turned to desalination plants, to desalinate seawater.
During the 80s and 90s, despite commissioning five plants, the water production from these plants was not sufficient to meet municipal demand. As the demand increased, so did the energy needed for the production and distribution of drinking water. The high demand for water supply was further challenged by water leakages across the system, pushing the island to launch a nation-wide programme to detect and close off leakages.
Today, water consumption stands at around 110 ltrs per person per day, and the work to improve water management continues unabated with sustainability taking centre stage.
The Water Services Corporation’s national project to produce ‘New Water’ is aimed at supplying water to farmers and the agricultural sector.
Through three polishing plants – at Gozo’s Ras il-Ħobż, Iċ-Ċumnija in Mellieħa and Ta’ Barkat in Xgħajra – treated sewage is being turned into high-quality, second-class water. Farmers have reported benefitting from higher yields. Unlike groundwater, new water does not contain any salinity.
TheJournal.mt is informed that the production of new water from these three plants is estimated to stand at around 4.2 million litres of water daily, equivalent to almost two Olmypic-sized pools.
“The production of new water is estimated to stand at around 4.2 million litres daily, equivalent to almost two Olmypic-sized pools.”
This water is produced by sophisticated reverse osmosis and ultra-filtration machinery ensuring product quality and security. Moreover, a number of reservoirs in Malta and Gozo are being restored or built, and a dedicated new water distribution network of around 60 km is being laid across the Maltese Islands.
New water is being dispensed through electronic dispensers, of which around 400 will eventually be commissioned to reach clients all over the main agricultural areas. Using EU funds, the project will also help to better manage the aquifer.
Similar projects are being carried out in the South of the island, with five reservoirs being rehabilitated and roofed-over to ensure security and quality of supply. The total storage capacity available is around 12,000 cubic metres. Some 70km of dedicated pipes are being laid to supply thousands of cubic metres per day of high-quality water to farmers in the areas of Marsaxlokk, Żejtun, Marsascala, Xgħajra, Żabbar and Kalkara.
There is no single solution to ensure the sustainable use of water. We’ve seen various campaigns to help raise awareness among the general public and to increase efficiency in work operations. Malta’s water history continues to grow with each policy that is adopted. In the meantime, we can all do our bit to conserve this vital resource for future generations.