We live in a culture which takes and never gives back and it is time to change that. Water is a communal resource. Malta is one of the driest countries in the world with around 600mm of rainfall a year and so water is a very precious resource for us, and we are letting it slip through our hands.
Malta has reported [to the EU] that 30% of groundwater bodies are at risk as a result of abstractions. The first recommendation which the EU gave was to put a price tag on water, so why is it still allowed to flow freely for the 3,500 borehole users?
Even worse, it is extracted from boreholes (legal or not) and, to add insult to injury, sold! Basically what these people are doing is selling you your own water. Quotas for extraction (for borehole users) are only expected to be in place by 2015. This might be too late.
Not all water usage is a right. Just enough water to sustain your basic bodily functions and carry out the necessities in life is a right. Water used filling up a swimming pool or running a fountain is only a commodity. In a country with such a scarce supply of water, relying heavily on our reverse osmosis plants, is it really commendable to allow such wasteful activities? This includes as well massive water parks and aquariums.
Flood relief is also an issue. It is shameful that we are flooded every time some rain comes our way, with all the rainwater being flushed back to the sea. The previous government stated that valleys are cleaned up every year to ensure that a correct flow of water can be channeled to valleys. This is all well and good, but we have entire villages built in a valley with no water catchment systems as of yet. A €56 million co-EU funded project will soon be in place so that the areas most affected (Gzira and M’Scala being on the forefront) will have some relief from floods, by directing the water to underground tunnels and reservoirs. Let us hope that the water saved will then be put to good use.
As for water use in homes, why not incentive more rain water catchment? Reduced taxes for homes containing a well (provided it is in use), or rewards for anyone with a negligible water bill? And inversely, increased taxes on households which surpass a quota per capita? Coupled with a strong educational force on the matter (which does not simply tell people to turn off the tap while brushing their teeth) it would pave the way to a replenished water table, giving us back what is rightfully ours. We hope that the mentality of ‘I am taking what is rightfully mine’ is changed into a state of mind encompassing the greater good.
Greenhouse Malta has already published some water saving tips in May 2012 on our blog and will be publishing a PR in time for World Water day. We will be announcing it through our facebook group and our blog.