Swimming pools cost the environment dearly

Bowsers extracted over 543,000 cubic metres of water, unbilled, then transported it over distances of 4-5km... ‘consuming more energy than reverse osmosis desalination’

Water extracted from boreholes by bowsers supplying private households, has increased drastically from 456,044 cubic metres in 2018, to 543,271 cb.m in 2020, official statistics provided to MaltaToday by the Energy and Water Agency show.

This represents an increase of 19% in the period of two years.

Extraction from boreholes for this purpose had already increased by 5% between 2018 and 2019. Statistics for 2017 are not fully available “as the (metering) system was still being developed.”

Borehole water extraction by bowsers grew 19% from 2018 to 2020

2018 456,044 cb.m
2019 477,769 cb.m
2020 543,271 cb.m

The water was extracted from 164 different boreholes used by water suppliers, suggesting that on average, each borehole used by bowsers pumped an average of 3,312 cb.m in 2020.

Water extracted from boreholes is not charged, and the main expense for those extracting water for commercial purposes is the energy cost of pumping water from the ground.

A large portion of water delivered by bowsers is used to fill swimming pools. Malta has 4,046 licensed swimming pools of which 1,169 (29%) are located in Gozo.

A total of 663 swimming pools were approved outside development zones since 2010, of which 29% were approved in Gozo. 38% of new swimming pools approved last year were in Gozo.

A spokesperson for MEW described the supply of water by bowsers as “a highly energy intensive process.”

The transfer of water by tanker over distances of 4-5km consumes more energy than the desalination of water by reverse osmosis.

MEW advocates the importance of developing alternative water resources, to ensure that water demand is provided by more environmentally friendly sources, including less energy-intensive desalinated water.

MEW is encouraging the use of ‘new water’, which is clean water produced in sewage treatment plants for agriculture, and the use of on-site desalination plants in hotels.

MEW is also encouraging water-efficient practices to reduce the consumption of groundwater by bowsers, such as the covering of pools to reduce evaporation, and more water efficient irrigation technologies in landscaping.