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MALTATODAY 16 October 2022

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3 maltatoday | SUNDAY • 16 OCTOBER 2022 NEWS Win a trip to Dubai In collaboration with with your moneybase Mastercard. Every €10 spent earns you a chance to win. Terms and conditions apply. Visit for more information. Moneybase payment services are brought to you by Moneybase Limited (MB) C87193, which is licensed by the MFSA to transact the business of a Financial Institution in terms of the Financial Institutions Act, Cap 376. Moneybase Investment Services are brought to you by Calamatta Cuschieri Investment Services Ltd (CCIS) C13729 and is licensed by the MFSA to undertake investment services business under the Investment Services Act, Cap 370. Moneybase Invest offers direct market access and speed of execution and is intended for knowledgeable and experienced individuals taking their own investment decisions. The value of investments may go up as well as down and investors might not get back the original amount invested. MB and CCIS are both subsidiaries of the CC Finance Group plc with their registered address situated at Level 0, Ewropa Business Centre, Dun Karm Street, Birkirkara, BKR 9034, Malta. the En- vironment and Resources Authority should be disincentivised from extracting groundwater through specific conditions in the same permit requesting the collection and use of rainwa- ter, recycle and re-use of water. He also proposed a planning gain contribution imposed on those who continue extracting groundwater "which should be transparently directed to ini- tiatives and projects aimed to replenish the groundwater and reduce the amount of rainwa- ter being lost to the sea." Both parties concur in recog- nising the problem posed by groundwater extraction and on the use of treated waste-water transformed into good quality irrigation water to alleviate the problem. The over-extraction of groundwater not only depletes the scarce resource, but also contributes to increased salin- ity inisde the acquifer. Malta's most important aquifer system, the Mean Sea Level aquifer sys- tem, consists of a freshwater lens that actually floats on sea- water, and therefore this aqui- fer is bounded by saline water at the sides and the bottom. Over-extraction ends up changing the shape of the aqui- fer, and draws in more saltwa- ter and increases salinity in the remaining groundwater. The problem is recognised in the recently-published Nation- al Strategy for the Environment 2050, which is currently open for public consultation. The strategy states that ensur- ing sustainable water resources is one of the key objectives of Malta's environmental plans and actions for the next three decades. "In this regard, as the Strategy confirms, the Govern- ment is committed to increase water efficiency and continue narrowing the gap between natural water resource extrac- tion and recharge, to ensure long-term sustainability," an energy minister spokesperson told MaltaToday. New water as a solution Ongoing investment in the New Water network, a major project which sees waste water from sewage treatment plants being treated and distribut- ed for free to farmers "is al- ready contributing to reduced groundwater consumption by the agricultural sector, while the cleaning of watercourses in several valleys is increasing water storage capacities, to im- prove aquifer recharge." New water was one of the projects commenced by the Labour administration after 2013, reversing a decision by the previous Nationalist ad- ministration to simply dump the treated sewage into the sea. This decision conditioned the choice of location for the plants which are all located near the coastline and far away from agricultural holdings. The availability of new water was made possible through ad- ditional investment for further sewage treatment, and a sys- tem consisting of distribution hydrants which farmers access by electronic cards. The New Water programme wil develop an annual capaci- ty of 7 million cubic metres of high-quality water suitable for safe crop irrigation, potential- ly addressing up to 35% of ag- riculture's current total water demand. The PN said it wants to "speed up the process of the distribu- tion of this polished water to be used as well by commercial entities like concrete plants". Stanley Zammit said that since new water comes at a cost, non-agricultural commercial and industrial users should be charged accordingly, while farmers get for free. "Never- theless, the rate for New Wa- ter should be less than that for extracted groundwater to en- courage the use of the former," Zammit said.

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