Water Services Corporation: Maltese tourism thriving thanks to cleaner seas

Water Services Corporation: Maltese tourism thriving thanks to cleaner seas

Monday, May 15, 2017 — Back in 2008 Malta discharged 100 % of its wastewater into the sea. Apart from not adhering to the EU wastewater directive, this directly affected tourism too, but then the Maltese Water Services Corporation (WSC) stepped in and began the long process of turning wastewater into a resource.

From 2008 to 2011, WSC constructed and implemented three sewage treatment plants. This meant the amount of sewage being treated went from 0 to 100 % which made Malta the first country in the Mediterranean to treat all its wastewater.

If a country wants to progress they have to upgrade their infrastructure,

said Stephen Zerafa, head of public relations at WSC.

Within six weeks of treating our sewage we had very positive results.

Malta soon earned more Blue Flag certified beaches than ever before, which attracted more upmarket tourists and boosted the local economy. Malta has also become one of the top locations for divers and each year attracts over 80 000 tourists for this reason alone.

WSC are now taking their clean water plans one step further by helping the country transform its sewage into a valuable resource.

Malta is just 200 hundred miles from a desert, we are a semi-arid region. It doesn’t make sense to waste the treated effluent by discharging it into the sea, it’s wiser to turn it back into something valuable,

said Zerafa.

WSC have embarked on an ambitious project to create high-quality water for agriculture, industry, and other uses. They call this ‘New Water’ and are aiming for a net-zero impact on the natural water cycle, whereby any groundwater that is abstracted will be replaced. These plants can reach a total production volume of 7,000,000m3 per year.

Along with its 1 000 employees, WSC’s water services will soon be able to provide greater support to Maltese industries.

Our sources of sewage are like any big European city, a majority of households and a minority of industry,

said Zerafa.

Large countries can learn a lot from small countries like Malta.

 

Green worker profile

New Water treatment

Despite being surrounded by the sea, the only usable water in Malta comes from groundwater and water produced by reverse osmosis. By ensuring it stays on the island they are creating a range of opportunities for the public.

In a way all jobs connected to New Water are green. We have engineers, architects, hydrologists, plant operators, administration staff and other technical experts,

said Anthony Tanti, WSC manager in charge of New Water.

Groundwater is a natural resource and it’s crucial for ecosystems. The driving force for the New Water project is safeguarding this source and by doing so WSC will create an economic ripple effect that will be felt across different industries.

The biggest benefactors will be the agricultural sector. Too much water has already been extracted over the years and this means the water they use to irrigate their land is high in salinity. New Water will be much better and ensure greater yields, longer shelf-life and better quality farm produce,

said Tanti.

 

Interesting facts & figures

  • WSC collects and treats the wastewater of over 250 000 households, businesses, industries and hotels, serving over 420 000 people.
  • Wastewater treatment imitates a natural process, it usually takes 6-12 months for nature to process sewage, but sewage treatment plants speed up this process to around 24 hours.
  • You end up with two by-products, one is clean, clear water which although high in bacteria, is safe to discharge into the sea, and the other is dried sludge which can be used as an energy source.
  • New Water tests revealed that farm products improved in terms of taste and shelf-life.
Green worker profile
Ta Barkat, © WSC

Contact us

Iris Petsa

Press Officer for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries

European Commission