Sunday, August 29, 2010

An indispensable national water policy for Malta

Caroline Galea in the Malta Independent: … Malta’s water consumption and footprint make … grim reading. For a nation that for centuries has prided itself on conserving every drop of water, today’s situation has changed a great deal. One can easily confirm this when considering the omnipresent well in every old house and the hundreds of cisterns and wells that dot our countryside.

Our annual consumption of water has increased steadily over the years. Alas, the majority of aquifers are being over-extracted with extraction figures perilously above the mean annual recharge. … A few weeks ago, the government, through the Ministry for Resources and Rural Affairs, launched a period of consultation that aims to address the growing problem that Malta faces with water consumption and conservation. This consultation should lead to a draft proposal on a comprehensive national water policy. … Indeed, there is precious little time to lose.

A report carried out by Carmen Delia for FAO in 2004 entitled “Water consumption, Sustainability and its Economic implications for Malta” continues to clarify the picture. Obviously, we are completely dependant on our desalination plants to cover the huge gap between consumption and our actual reserve of water. More so, our water is heavily subsidized. The price of a unit of water covers a fraction of the real cost both economically and environmentally.

...Furthermore, it was estimated that producing 1 cubic metre of water by reverse osmosis consumes 7.05 kWH of electricity. This is a significant amount, contributing to economic strains on the utility and more emissions. The problem is apparently complex. Pricing of water has always been a sensitive political and social issue hence solutions are hard to come by. More efficiency and a judicious use of this priceless resource are apparently the immediate actions available….

A valley near Xlendi, Gozo, Malta, shot by Ramessos, Wikimedia Commons

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