Farmers yielding two crops a year with ‘new’ second-class water

Filtered water from treated sewage serving 170 farmers in Mellieha, to be extended to Mgarr area

Some 170 farmers in the Mellieha area who have started using ‘new water’ from treated sewage for irrigation purposes are reporting better produce, according to the Water Services Corporation.

The WSC said farmers’ demand for the service has increased remarkably, leading to an increase in the supply network of so called second-class water.

Tenders have now been issued for the trenching and pipe-laying of a distribution network in Mellieha and Mgarr.

The water is treated in three phases – ultra-filtration, reverse osmosis, and advanced oxidification. “This three-phase treatment is indeed revolutionary, and Malta is amongst world leaders in the field such as Israel and Singapore,” said WSC CEO Richard Bilocca.

By using new water, farmers are benefitting from a stable supply of low salinity water resulting in a very positive impact on their crops, giving them better shelf life and greater production flexibility.

“Some farmers are even getting two crops a year, rather than one because the ‘new water’ does not have any negative impact on the fertility of the soil. Farmers are also minimising the strain on the aquifer that is caused by borehole extraction, exacerbated by the poor rainfall of the last years and helping the aquifer to replenish over time,” Bilocca said.

The quality of the water is above Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) standards and undergoes strict testing regime at the WSC’s laboratories.

Farmers are given electronic cards to retrieve the water in proportion to the amount of land they farm, and the amount of water they take out is marked.

The new distribution system will cover 400 hectares of agricultural land through a 20km distribution network and will involve the installation of around 140 dispensing points. The project will be led by the Water Services Corporation and may be part-financed through EAFRD funds.

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