Off with the off-roaders! Għajn Rihana valley to get 128 security cameras

128 security cameras deployed to fight bikers, vandalism and illegal dumping in Għajn Rihana valley in Burmarrad

1,600 new trees will be planted in the Burmarrad watercourse. In order to guarantee that the site will remain free of dumped refuse, vandalism and off-road bikers, the whole area will be under security camera surveillance
1,600 new trees will be planted in the Burmarrad watercourse. In order to guarantee that the site will remain free of dumped refuse, vandalism and off-road bikers, the whole area will be under security camera surveillance

Ambjent Malta has plans to rehabilitate Wied Għajn Rihana and plant 1,600 native trees in the partially man-made watercourse passing through the Burmarrad floodplain.

The project will remove invasive and non-native plants, plant indigenous trees and shrub, repair passageways and restore rubble walls.

There will also be 128 security cameras meant to fend off vandals but also off-roaders, which are being deemed excessive by the Environment and Resources Authority and which has warned against any formalisation of the site through concrete pathways.

The stream, which originates from Wied l-Imselliet in Mġarr and Wied Għajn Mula and connects with the downstream area of Wied il-Għasel, is presently abandoned and prone to flooding.

This valley system is part of the second largest water catchment in the Maltese islands, that flows into Salini and Burmarrad. The site is also designated as an Area of Ecological Importance and Site of Scientific Importance.

Over the past years of neglect, the structures suffered numerous damages throughout the years due to neglect and lack of maintenance.
Over the past years of neglect, the structures suffered numerous damages throughout the years due to neglect and lack of maintenance.

An afforestation project in Wied Għajn Rihana in the early 1980s resulted in the planting of numerous invasive Acacia saligna trees. Masonry bridges were constructed along the watercourse as passageways for farmers, which form extensive water basins that facilitate aquifer recharge.

But over the past years of neglect, the structures suffered numerous damages throughout the years due to neglect and lack of maintenance.

In order to guarantee that the site will remain free of dumped refuse, vandalism and off-road bikers, the whole area will be under security camera surveillance.

64, four-metre high timber poles, will be planted on the side of the existing fields spaced 25m from each other, each to take two CCTV cameras. The poles will be exclusively used for security cameras and no street lighting will be introduced to the site. Any required wiring will be passed through PVC sleeves embedded inside the flooring concrete.

In order to be able to run the system with 128 cameras on site, a 9sq.m room will be located opposite an Enemalta substation by an existing stone bridge within reach of the main road, for better access of electricity and fibre-optic data supplies. The room will be clad with rubble wall material to minimize its visual impact. The same room will also house the control panelling of the whole irrigation system.

In order to be able to run the system with 128 cameras on site, a 9sq.m room will be located opposite an Enemalta substation by an existing stone bridge within reach of the main road
In order to be able to run the system with 128 cameras on site, a 9sq.m room will be located opposite an Enemalta substation by an existing stone bridge within reach of the main road

On its part the Environment and Resources Authority welcomed the project but suggested that the use of concrete on the existing passageways should be kept to a minimum as to prevent incompatibility with the natural surrounding areas.

Moreover, the installation of 128 cameras on site is being considered excessive and could end up over-formalising the site.

ERA is insisting that the project does not establish new right-of-ways or the endorsement of any accesses constructed without permit. The Superintendence for Cultural Heritage also expressed its concern that the proposed works will lead to the formalisation of the area, something which would have an “undeniable impact on the on legibility of cultural landscape”.

The inclusion of 1,600 native trees will ensure that pollinators will have an adequate replacement for foraging.

In order to guarantee that the 1,600 new native trees have good irrigation, a 64sq.m underground water reservoir will be located underneath a new stone bridge.

A method statement presented by Ambjent Malta describes the “invasion of Acacia saligna trees” as the largest threat to the watercourse. These trees will be hacked down with chainsaws in a way which causes the least disturbance to the soil.

In order to guarantee that the 1,600 new native trees have good irrigation, a 64sq.m underground water reservoir will be located underneath a new stone bridge
In order to guarantee that the 1,600 new native trees have good irrigation, a 64sq.m underground water reservoir will be located underneath a new stone bridge

The waterway is also presently full of debris, also blocking the PVC pipework through which running water passes through. As part of the embellishment, the whole waterway will be manually cleared of all the debris, dead logs and other material which is presently found within the same waterway.

The project also foresees the resurfacing of the existing passageways, which are presently covered with just soil and rubble. The plans exclude the excavation of the existing road surface. Instead, the road level will be raised by 28cm using concrete bedding, which will then be covered by lower coralline limestone, laid in irregular shape and sizes.

Since the existing road within the entrance to the site crosses the waterway, this often results in flooding. To eliminate this problem, a new stone bridge very similar to the existing ones is being proposed. This bridge will cover an area amounting to approximately 64sq.m, in which three PVC pipes will ensure that water passes through the waterway.

The stone bridge will also have a recessed middle area, so that in case of heavy rain when the PVC pipes will no longer be sufficient, water rushing down the waterway can still pass over the stone bridge without causing any flooding.

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