Precious Water: The underground water and springs at Fontana

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Precious Water: The underground water and springs at Fontana

Il-Ghajn il-Kbira – from where the settlelment got its name

The Gozo College Middle School eco-school committee is participating in the YRE (Young Reporters for the Environment) and Water Explorer Programme by Nature Trust FEE Malta.

As part of this project they have produced an article on the the underground water and springs at Fontana – Precious Water.

“The small village of Fontana lies on the outskirts of Victoria, also known as Rabat in Gozo. It became the ideal site for a settlement due to a number of fresh water springs in the area.

Locally, this settlement is simply known as it-Triq tal-Ghajn – the way to the spring, a name it took from a bountiful spring at the bottom of the main road of the village known as Il-Ghajn il-Kbira, the principal spring.

The spring flows where three valleys, Wied il-Lunzjata, Wied Siekel and Wieq ta’ Saqwi converge into Wied ix-Xlendi. The word wied in Maltese stands for valley.

The importance of this spring dates back to the Aragonese period. Documents show that the feudal lords collected money from farmers who used water from these springs to water their fields.

In fact, local residents fondly recount how the water from l-Ghajn il-Kbira was an important source of water for all their necessities including drinking.

Precious Water: The underground water and springs at Fontana

A sign posted by WSC informs the public that the freshwater at Ghajn ta’ Bendu is not safe for drinking

L-Ghajn ta’ Bendu is another fresh water spring in this quaint village. Unfortunately, as a sign clearly indicates, the fresh water coming out from the rocks is not fit for drinking.

Precious Water: The underground water and springs at Fontana

Crystal clear water flowing from one of the springs.

The mayor of the locality, Mr Salvu Borg, explained that sample testing of the water by the Water Services Corporation carried in the past years showed that the fresh water coming out of these springs has a high level of various chemicals including nitrates as a result of overuse and unsustainable farming practices.

Fertilisers and pesticides from farming end up in the groundwater, a precious source of water for the islands, making it exceed water quality standards.

Malta ranks in the top ten water scarce countries in the world and groundwater is one of the main sources of fresh water. It is such a pity that this precious water flowing generously in this settlement is no longer potable.”

Reference: Bezzina, Joseph. “Fontana It-Triq tal-Ghajn The village of valleys and springs” 2001.

Photographs: Gozo College Middle School

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