Eighty per cent of Malta’s sewage is being discharged directly into the sea as the largest wastewater treatment plant on the island is under maintenance, according to the Water Services Corporation.

A corporation spokesman blamed the dumping of waste from animal farms for the clogging of the wastewater plant at Ta’ Barkat, in Xgħajra.

No deadline was given for when the plant would be operational again.

The spokesman was replying to questions sent by this newspaper following complaints that raw sewage was being discharged off the Xgħajra coast.

On Monday, Times of Malta witnessed seagulls flying over a yellowish patch of seawater, the spot where the plant’s discharge outlet is located, about 1,000 metres from the shore.

Residents who spoke with this newspaper and insisted on anonymity lamented that the plant had not been functioning properly for quite some time. “Unfortunately, the scene of seagulls feasting on the untreated sewage has again become a regular occurrence in this area,” one resident noted.

For decades, all of Malta's untreated sewage was discharged directly into the sea at Xgħajra.  

The situation persisted until 2011, when the €60 million EU-funded Ta’ Barkat plant was inaugurated and sewage started to be treated before being discharged.