Malta is one of the driest countries worldwide. In fact, with only 40 cubic meters of naturally occurring freshwater per capita, Malta places amongst the world’s top ten water scarce countries.
Most of Malta’s natural freshwater is stored in underground aquifers – large lens-like bodies of freshwater floating on saltwater, stored in porous rocks. This water is renewed when rainwater is absorbed into the ground and slowly, over a period of decades, percolates into these groundwater bodies. Since groundwater is dependent on rain for replenishment, it is a finite resource.
Only 23 million cubic meters of groundwater are estimated to be sustainably available for human use through extraction. However, Malta’s consumption is well above this figure. Between the domestic, agricultural and other sectors, water consumption is conservatively estimated at 65 million cubic meters per annum.
There is a very large difference between the amount of water available and the amount of water consumed. It is clear that given the scarcity of freshwater in Malta, effective and efficient management of our consumption must be given priority. This way the limited water naturally available will not be used wastefully.
It is also clear that Malta needs to carefully source additional sources of water, as the amount of groundwater sustainably available simply cannot meet Malta’s demand.