[WATCH] New Pembroke-Ta’ Qali tunnel promises high quality water supply across Malta

The project is expected to lead to better consistency in the quality and taste of water around the island

The tunnel should take around two years to complete, and is currently being drilled at three locations. (Photo: James Bianchi/MediaToday)
The tunnel should take around two years to complete, and is currently being drilled at three locations. (Photo: James Bianchi/MediaToday)

Drilling works on a 9.5km tunnel linking Pembroke reverse osmosis to reservoirs in Ta’ Qali are under way, with the project aiming to improve Malta’s water supply, environmental sustainability and operational efficiency.

The tunnel will distribute pure water through fibreglass pipes from the reverse osmosis to the reservoirs, where it will be blended with groundwater, eliminating the need for the water to be dosed with lime. It will then be sampled and treated, to ensure an optimal quality blend.

Water Services Corporation CEO Richard Bilocca said the project, which is expected to take two to two and a half years to complete, will lead to an increase in the quality of the water, including an improvement in its taste. “Tap water is 100% safe to drink through Malta, but the taste isn’t always ideal. Through this project, the quality and taste of water will become consistent across the island.”

The large diameter glass fibre reinforced plastic (GPR) pipes in the tunnel are being produced and supplied by Turkish company Superlit Boru Sanayi AS, and are the first of their type of be used in Malta.

The tunnel will house two pipelines, one to deliver water to Ta’ Qali and the other to supply good quality blended water to the central part of the island, through a centralised hub fed mainly through gravity, without the need for pumps.

In total, around 3,000 tonnes of pipework and fittings will be laid in the tunnel, which is being drilled in three locations that will eventually merge.

The tunnel is one of two projects currently underway at the Pembroke reverse osmosis plant, the second being an upgrading exercise for the plant’s machinery.

“Through the machine upgrades, we will be able to produce double the quantity of filtered water using the same amount of energy as before,” Bilocca said.

As a result of the upgrades, the estimated annual reduction in electricity use at the Pembroke plant will be of more than 4,400,00 kwHr, resulting in annual savings of over €420,000.

Tunnel part of major water project

(Photo: James Bianchi/MediaToday)
(Photo: James Bianchi/MediaToday)

The tunnel is one component of a €100 million four-year major project, being coordinated by the WSC and co-financed by the EU, aimed at bossting Malta’s water supply security, improving water quality, and promoting the more sustainable and efficient usage of the natural resource.

“Even on a European Union level, Malta is improving significantly when it comes to its use of water. Other EU countries are looking at Malta as a benchmark and an example of how to manage and use water,” water management parliamentary secretary Aaron Farrugia said.

Farrugia added that the project would not only lead to an improvement in the quality of drinking water, but also in that of the water used for agricultural purposes.

Energy minister Joe Mizzi noted that the pressure on the water supply and drainage infrastructure in Malta was rising in tandem with the increase in the island’s population. “We therefore need this project to prepare us for the future,” he said.

Mizzi said that, once the project is finished, certain villages which were previously not well connected to the water supply, would be at a smaller risk of ending up without running water for an extended period if something goes wrong in the system.

More in National