More water needed to quench increased population

Malta will need to produce less water than in 1996 when most of the water produced was lost to leakages

Water production started to increase again, surpassing the 32 million cubic metre mark in the past five years
Water production started to increase again, surpassing the 32 million cubic metre mark in the past five years

In the wake of the increase in population, water consumption has increased by nearly 4% between 2017 and 2018, official data released by the Water Services Corporation shows.

But thanks to improved efficiencies, the WSC plans to increase production without any negative impact on water and energy resources.
Thanks to the reduction in leakages, less water has to be produced than 22 years ago to meet present-day demand.

In fact water production was reduced from over 50 million cubic metres in 1996 when most water was lost to leakages to less than 30 million cubic metres by 2010. Production started to increase again, surpassing the 32 million cubic metre mark in the past five years. It is now planned that by 2050, production will rise to 38 million cubic metres from the present 32 million cubic metres.

To meet the increased demand, the Water Services Corporation is planning to increase the production of desalinated water from Reverse Osmosis plants while clamping further on water leakages.  

By increasing well-fields in the existing RO plants the WSC plans to increase production by an additional 14,000 cubic metres per day. The construction of a new RO plant at Hondoq ir-Rummien will produce a further 9,000 cubic metres every day.

The WSC also plans to increase the proportion of desalinated water in the water blend by decreasing ground water extraction from 13.7 million cubic metres to 10 million cubic metres. In this way the percentage of ground water in the blend of water offered to consumers will be reduced from 40% to 30%.

While water from desalinated water is more expensive to produce due to energy costs, this cost has already gone down from 7.6 kWh for each cubic metre produced to 4.4 kWh. Through further investment in efficiency, the cost will go down further to 2.8 kWh.

Although water derived from the water table is less expen-sive to produce, it comes at an environmental and resource cost which is not factored in the billing system.  The WSC’s impact on ground water resources is limited as more water is extracted from hundreds of private boreholes. This impact may be addressed by offering more new water derived from sewage treatment to farmers. Malta currently produces 21 million cubic metres of new water.   

During the past years the Water Services Corporation has also increased the number of inspections on suspected water theft or tampering. The number of inspections increased from 424 in 2015 to 1,306 in the first 10 months of 2018. 54 cases of possible misuse were found in 2017, up from 26 in 2015. 

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