Malta urgently needs formal national water plan – Nature Trust Malta

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Malta urgently needs formal national water plan - Nature Trust MaltaOn this World Water Day, Nature Trust Malta has called on the Government to show “strong leadership on water issues both at home and abroad,” adding that “Malta urgently needs a formal national water plan.”

“As EU president and chair-in-office of the Commonwealth Malta has the unique opportunity to advocate on global water issues,” Nature Trust’s President Vincent Attard stated.

“Many countries are already facing severe droughts and /or unprecedented flooding and will face the progressive worsening of these problems due to the growing impact of climate change. Malta itself is classified as one of the most ‘water poor’ nations on the planet while the Mediterranean will be among the regions hardest hit by climate change,” Attard added.

He stated that, “Malta urgently needs a formal national water plan emerging from an inclusive national dialogue bringing together all stakeholders. Parliament should then enact a long-term national water strategy, aligned with both the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals to 2030 and existing Mediterranean initiatives. Also needed is a clear delineation and reorganisation of responsibilities of the current water governance structure.”

“Malta island’s mean sea level aquifer is its main source of freshwater – but increasingly threatened by the rising sea level caused by climate change which increases the water’s salt content. Already about 60% of our water comes from seawater desalination – which is energy intensive, producing large quantities of waste and is vulnerable to any major oil spill offshore, or suspension of supplies due to some political crisis in the region, said Attard.

“Continued reliance on this source is inevitable but the nation must make every effort to maximise our own resources, through water saving, maximum possible capture of rainwater, stormwater and reuse of treated waste water from the current sewage plants.”

Nature Trust’s President went on to say that, “we commend the WSC’s water saving tips posted on its website – but these should be enclosed in every water bill sent to consumers. The identification, registration and metering of currently illegal boreholes must be completed, and a strategy worked out to bill their owners for withdrawals. Government purchases from private (bowser) suppliers must also be critically reviewed.”

“Agriculture remains the leading water user. Under the Strategy we propose farmers must be strongly motivated to conserve and capture water on-site, enabled to use polished wastewater and review their current cropping patterns so as to progressively adopt less water-intensive and more drought resistant strains,” commented Attard.

“Water capture and storage systems must be mandatory in all new buildings and fiscal incentives offered to all building owners to install such systems, or revive systems originally built into the structure which are now disused.”

Nature Trust Malta said that it has been actively contributing to improving Malta’s water situation as local manager of the international Alter Aqua project on non-conventional resources. It has trained 926 educators while some 10358 students have attended interactive workshops conducted by Ekoskola (80% of schools) teachers and at the Xrobb l-Ghagin Nature Park and Sustainable Development Centre where applications can be made for training. Nature Trust also partners with HBSC in its ‘Catch the Drop’ project.

Photograph by Alain Salvary

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