University of Malta

Water Conservation
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The pressures on water resources in Malta have long been recognised when reliance on natural freshwater resources was deemed insufficient and alternative water production methods in the form of distillation and subsequently desalination had to be resorted to.  In 2008 desalinated water accounted for approximately 55% of total water production (NSO, 2009) reinforcing in a quantitative manner the dependency Malta has on alternative water resources.  Interestingly, of the billed water consumption, 67% is attributed to households.  Billed water consumption is that water consumption which is accounted for by the WSC’s billing system and which refer to the actual consumption recorded by meter readers every six months.  It does not include illegal abstraction which might take place.

With the extraction of groundwater estimated at about 34 million cubic metres a year (MRA, 2005), this represents 11 million cubic metres more than the MRA's recommendations for sustainable extraction (FAO, 2006).  Latest figures for groundwater abstraction (NSO, 2009) show that total abstraction from the aquifer amounts to around 14hm3.  This begs the questions as to whether the balance between estimated abstraction (34hm3) and WSC abstracted water (14hm3) and which amounts to 20hm3, is legally or illegally abstracted unmetered water.

Apart from the Water Services Corporation Act and the Malta Resources Authority Act, the most significant body of legislation is the Water Policy Framework Regulations, 2004 which transposes the Water Framework Directive (2000/60/EC), into Maltese legislation as Legal Notice 194 of 2004.  The Directive provides for the long-term sustainable management of water resources on the basis of a high level of protection of the aquatic environment.  As regards groundwater, the main aims of the legislation can be outlined as follows:

      Prevention of deterioration in the status of groundwater bodies;

      Protection, enhancement and restoration of all groundwater bodies;

      Achievement of good groundwater qualitative and quantitative status by 2015;

      Prevention of and limiting the input of pollutants in groundwater;

      Reversing any significant, upward trend of pollutants in groundwater;

      Achievement of standards and objectives set for protected areas in other National and Community Legislation.


A comprehensive review of Malta’s water resources was published in 2006 by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations who worked very closely with the Malta Resources Authority.  One of the key facts that emerged is that groundwater bodies suffer from extensive overabstraction with most aquifers at risk of failing to meet quantitative and qualitative standards as stipulated by the Water Framework Directive.

Malta’s Water Policy (2012) also recognises the need for water conservation to take centre stage and supports measures at a national level aimed at educating the population on the need for water conservation measures and achieving the necessary reduction in water consumption.  Malta has a water metering system which permits the recording of water consumption in each dwelling.  Billing is effected at least on a six monthly basis and through the bills actual readings of water consumption are available to the consumer.  This means that, over any period of time, either through historic water bills, or through ad hoc meter readings, the amount of water consumed can be calculated.

The aim of this project is to retrofit up to 100 households with a combination of toilet water cisterns volume displacers, tap aerators and/or low flow showerheads.  This with a view to calculate the potential reduction in water consumption that could be achieved from non-destructive retrofitting as well as to assess the level of acceptance of the pilot households to these retrofits.

The project is currently in a phase where it is seeking interested persons to register their interest in retrofitting their home.  For further information please contact Perit Kevin Gatt on or Perit David Cilia on

Last Updated: 16 June 2014

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