‘Water – a public resource which must be protected’

 

Alternattiva Demokratika – The Green Party this morning organised a roundtable debate on Malta’s water-related issues within an EU context, with the participation of state agency representatives, experts and NGOs.

Carmel Cacopardo AD Spokesman for Sustainable Development and Local Government stated that AD welcomes the proposals in the Climate Change adaptation strategy which recommend using recycled sewage, adequately filtered and polished, for agricultural  purposes. Though late in the day this turnabout is welcome and when implemented it will go a long way towards protecting the water table by providing an alternative to the use of ground water.

However, Cacopardo added, that this recommendation will require substantial investments to transport the water from the points where it will be purified to the points of use. These costs will have to be incurred  as the design of the current sewage purification network ignored alternative uses of the purified water. In fact the brief for the design  of the network only deemed it fit for discharge into the sea. AD has been actively campaigning for the use of the recycled sewage and for treating all sources of water as a priceless resource.

Michael Briguglio, AD Chairperson, said: ‘Malta has 8,000 private boreholes, extracting ground water for various uses, including water for soft drinks, animal husbandry, manufacturing industry, concrete batching plants, swimming pools, agriculture, lawns and private gardens – making it probably the country with the highest borehole density in the world. The current free-for-all situation and the recent increases in mains water tariffs has encouraged those who use large amounts of water to drill boreholes or purchase water extracted from boreholes. This is nothing but theft of a strategic resource, whilst everyone else is paying their utility bills. How could it be that such a scarce resource is being treated as if it had unlimited supply, and how come those who are grabbing it for free are being rewarded for doing so? ‘

The debate was chaired by journalist James Debono and participants included Michael Briguglio (AD Chairperson), Carmel Cacopardo (AD spokespeson for Sustainable Development and Local Government), Ralph Cassar (AD Secretary General), Marco Cremona (Hydrologist), Marc Muscat (CEO, Water Services Corporation), Peppi Gauci (Permaculture Foundation), Michelle Borg (MEPA), Dr John Mangion, Director of Water (Malta Resources Authority), David Xuereb, a representative of the Environmental Health Directorate, Francine Caruana (Executive Consultation – MEUSAC), Gordon Knox, Andre Portelli (Moviment Graffitti), Alfred E. Baldacchino, Joe Agius (Ramblers Association), Anna Zammit (sociologist) and Anne Zammit (environmental journalist).