NAWAMED, a key project for the management of water resources in Malta


In this article, Manuel Sapiano, Chief Executive Officer of the Energy and Water Agency (EWA) within Malta’s Ministry for Energy and Water Management presents Malta’s water management policy framework and outlines how the NAWAMED project will contribute to its implementation.

The small size of the Maltese islands and their semi-arid Mediterranean climate limit the availability of natural freshwater resources. Meeting the national water demand is an important challenge for the islands, where it is estimated that water supplies sourced from natural water resources are only able to provide for around half the water needs of the population and economic activities when used sustainably.

Within this context, the NAWAMED project provides the opportunity for broadening the application of water reclamation practices to the urban sector.  Through this project, Malta will assess the potential for the application of decentralised, innovative, sustainable and  low-cost treatment technologies for the reuse of grey-waters in the domestic sectors to address the demand of second class water.

Malta has however transformed this challenge into an opportunity to develop a water management framework based on the conjunctive use of water demand management and water supply augmentation measures to meet the national water demand

The implementation of a water demand management framework at national and user level contributes to a high level of water use efficiency, hence enabling national water demand to be maintained at highly efficient levels, whilst the introduction of non-conventional water resources such as the desalination of sea-water and the reclamation of wastewaters has contributed to the broadening of the national resource base, hence enabling an efficient water demand to be met whilst ensuring the sustainable use of natural water resources.

In particular, these last years have seen the commissioning of three polishing plants for treated wastewaters as part of the New Water programme. Through this programme, Malta is making reclaimed waters available for agricultural and industrial uses, therefore reducing the dependency of these sectors on the natural groundwater resources.  It is projected that the New Water project will be able to address up to 35% of the current total water demand of the agricultural sector, hence substantially reducing the pressures on the islands’ groundwater resources.  This project is thus key in ensuring Malta’s achievement of good groundwater quantitative status objectives required as part of the implementation of the EU’s Water Framework Directive.

Greywater reuse will enable the cyclic use of water in the urban sector at household level, thereby reducing the effective water demand of households and their dependency on current water production sources thereby lowering their water footprint. In this way, NAWAMED is a key project which can potentially take the integrated management of water resources in Malta a step further.

For more information about NAWAMED, please visit the project website.