Collecting all the rainwater that fell on Monday would have required a reservoir spread over six football grounds and 21 storeys high, according to Malta Resources Authority CEO Anthony Rizzo.

In response to criticism about lack of water storage infrastructure, Mr Rizzo said such type of storage was not cost-efficient but other measures were possible to ensure better water collection.

Speaking at a seminar on energy and water conservation, he pointed out the authorities had cleaned up 20 valleys over the past two years to make sure rainwater could reach the drying aquifers and replenish them. However, more needed to be done so that water was not wasted, primarily through the enforcement of laws which stipulate that households should have their own wells or reservoirs, he said.

Asked whether any enforcement was taking place, he said: “I’ll have to give you the diplomatic answer. MRA is not the responsible authority. We want this to be enforced rigorously.”

In fact, the enforcement is the responsibility of the Malta Environment and Planning Authority but no inspections are carried out to ensure this is done.

Speaking about the targets set by the EU on the use of renewable energy, Mr Rizzo gave a mostly optimistic view of how Malta could achieve them. However, he said, his hopes were pinned largely on generating energy through wind.

“As we know, there may be some issues with the site chosen for a wind farm, so we have to prepare ourselves for alternatives,” he said, pointing out that wave energy was also being considered seriously, although the technology was still in its infancy.

Resources and Rural Affairs Minister George Pullicino told the seminar, organised by the Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise and Industry, the rain that fell on Monday was the best visual reminder of the seriousness of the water management issue. The government, he added, would soon launch its water policy following the public consultation period.

Meanwhile, flood relief infrastructure would start being built next year in four localities, he said.

Mr Pullicino pointed out that the higher energy tariffs had been successful in forcing people to be more careful about conserving energy and water, which was crucial in reaching EU-set targets.

The ministry was busy working on improving the regulation of boreholes, with a moratorium on drilling, a strict quota being granted to farmers, and the shutting down of domestic boreholes.

“However, even if we stop all our bad practices today, it will still take 40 years for things to improve naturally to the desired levels,” he warned.

Architect David Xuereb stressed the importance of seeing how families and businesses could ensure energy efficiency. However, some building policies forced architects to use the least efficient methods, he noted.

In Malta, architects must build double walls instead of single ones with insulation, he said, pointing out that one should be more courageous in adopting methods that had been tried and tested abroad.

Mr Pullicino said he installed insulation in his new apartment, which saved between 60 and 70 per cent of energy, at a small cost.


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