Malta: A Lesson In Desertification, Freshwater & Desalination


Like many other island nations, Malta has many environmental similarities. For the purpose of this post, Malta can be a poster child for a warming climate and freshwater disregard. I have reprinted this very short but telling article by Philip Grech.

Water – a Legacy for the 22nd Century

“The Chamber of Engineers has chosen Water – A 21st Century Challenge as the theme for its conference this year. The issues facing the management of the water resources of Malta go way beyond technological issues. We have to realise where we have come from and where we need to go, while identifying the context of the age and economic climate in which we live.

We should recognise ourselves as a small island state on the edge of desertification, which however has adopted a great many unsustainable uses of water.

We manufacture most of our tap water from the sea through a process that has a high carbon footprint and use a high percentage of that water for non-potable uses. Households pay the full cost of the production and delivery of this water, yet we charge heavy users of tap water less than we do to households. At the same time, we widely drink refined bottled tap or ground water. We have built double the capacity we needed to desalinate seawater.

We plan to dump to the sea the rainfall that falls on over 25 per cent of the surface of the country. We exercise no control over the private abstraction of the natural groundwater resources. We treat all our sewage and we discharge that to the sea too.

Our regulators are weak, our governance is poor and our sustainability is undeniably non-existent. We are meeting present day demands by being prodigal with our resources, and irresponsible with our inheritance. We are creating a 22nd century legacy that future generations will not thank us for.”

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