Government opens public consultation for third River Basin Management Plan

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The Ministry of Energy and Water Management, alongside the Ministry of the Environment, Climate Change and Planning, has opened its plans for the upcoming River Basin Management Plan (RBMP), the third one to date.

This is being done in order for all entities involved in the planning process to get a better idea of what the public thinks about the issues they discovered from previous plans as well as welcome new ideas from the public.

The RBMP is a water management plan that addresses the qualitative and quantitative management of all costal and inland waters through a number of initiatives that aim to protect the Maltese islands’ water resources.

The Environment and Resources Authority (ERA) and the Energy and Water Agency (EWA) have identified a number of gaps that were left by previous RBMPs and have come up with a list of Significant Water Management Issues which will be given specific importance in the formulation of the 3rd RNMPs Programme of Measures.

Together, these entities discovered 12 major issues which have been divided into quantitative issue, qualitative issues and horizontal issues.

Qualitative issues include energy efficiency in water service, wastewater treatment and conveyance infrastructure, water management in the urban environment and groundwater management.

On the other hand, qualitative issues involve contaminants like product chemicals which are of emerging concern, the effective use of fertilisers, the status of surface water and litter found in marine environments.

Finally, horizontal issues refer to the contribution that water has to Malta’s economy, the areas of research and innovation for the development of new tools, the alignment of national polices and climate change which brings with it certain extreme weather-related events like prolonged droughts and urban floods.

EWA CEO Manuel Sapiano explained that by opening up these issues to public consultation, the Agency will get a better idea of which issues people consider to be the most pressing.

This can be done by accessing the consultation document and questionnaire from the ERA and EWA websites. Printed versions are limited to reduce less waste however, anyone without internet access can call one of the entities to have the document delivered to their homes. 

The public will also have the opportunity to add its own suggestions and concerns which the authorities will then evaluate and consult accordingly.

“We cannot simply look at water on its own as it is also effected by the climate and the environment surrounding it. Likewise, we have to look at the affect water has on other factors like biodiversity; as we know if we have prolonged droughts it will result in a degrading biodiversity,” Environment Minister Aaron Farrugia said.

Water Management Minister Michael Farrugia said that while our country is scarce in natural resource, it is rich in water resources which is why the country has to make the best use of it.

“This government made a lot investment in this sector and we have seen an increase in quality if our water with regards to taste and chemical balance. It also understands the importance of safeguarding and maintaining the natural resources of water generation like our valleys.”