It is essential that ground water is protected. It has been ignored for ages both due to over-extraction of water as well as a result of its being contaminated through pesticides, artificial fertilisers and farm sewage.
This morning, together with AD Chairman Arnold Cassola I addressed a press conference next to a factory which is known to utilise ground water for 40% of its requirements for free. This is not acceptable and has to cease forthwith.
The factory produces Coca Cola products and is situated in the Marsa Industrial Estate. Together with its parent company and foundation this same company invests in educational campaigns promoting the sustainable use of water. It would have been much better if it led by example.
It is essential that decisions are rolled out the earliest because further delay will leave us in a situation where we have nothing left to protect. Amongst the urgent decisions required are the need to better regulate the extracton of ground water including that industry is not permitted any more to make direct use of this resource neither against payment and much less without.
It is positive that amongst the decisions already taken is that about the reuse of treated sewage effluent (TSE). Calls for tender have already been issued and we hope that the necessary changes are carried out at the earliest. The use of TSE will nessarily lead to a reduction of use of water coming from other sources, including ground water.
It is also essential that that the conclusions of the pilot project to recharge the aquifer through using TSE are made public so that an informed public debate of the matter is carried out.
A long term agritcultural plan which considers the water requirements of this strategic activity is essential. Such an agricultural plan should also address the need to reduce the use of pestcides and artificial fertilisers. Farmers require professional assistance to address this matter which should seek not only the reduction of use of pesticdes and artificial fertilisers but also the protection of soil and ground water.
We should remember that the contamination of ground water follows a 40 year cycle. That means it will take some time for benefits of present day decisions to be felt. It is thus more important to act the soonest.