Gozo sewage outfall damaged by illegal waste successfully repaired

The operation cost the WSC €500,000 and involved deep-sea divers diving to a depth of 60 to 90 metres

The decompression chamber used by deep-sea divers to dive to depths of around 80 metres
The decompression chamber used by deep-sea divers to dive to depths of around 80 metres

The operation to replace a broken section of the Gozo sewage outfall was successfully concluded, the Water Services Corporation said, adding that the damage resulted from the dumping of illegal waste such as animal and domestic refuse.

On 22 August, two vessels in the Grand Harbour were fitted with specialised machinery and eventually set sail two days later for Gozo.

"Divers entered the compression chamber and were lowered to a depth of 60 to 90 metres to start works on the outfall. During this period the divers were confined to this chamber and worked for eight hours a day, four hours at a time, with one diver working on the outfall and the other on standby in the specialised bell to provide assistance in case of safety issues," the Water Services said in a statement.

Previously, the WSC had said that the outfall had been damaged by illegal discharges, limiting its discharge point from 90 metres to around 40 metres.

"The utmost attention was given to the wellbeing of the divers and even their body temperature was regulated by special heated suits. The divers first installed a special fitting to the old outfall so that the new pipes could be secured. Tailormade S-bends were also used to compensate for the sharp drops in depth," the statement read.

The WSC added that such an operation cost around €500,000.

"Damage to the outfall was caused by years of illegal sewer discharges that literally wreak havoc in the sewage infrastructure. The materials discharged range from tonnes of animal waste to domestic items such as cleaning and baby wipes," the WSC said.

Repairs included an improved setup at the plant, ensuring optimal environmental performance, and a state-of-the-art recently patented diffuser. 

"To complement these investments the corporation is working on a holistic strategy that will significantly improve the monitoring of the sewers and the deterrents for those who may still abuse the system," the WSC said.

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