Green Paper on the Regulation of Groundwater Abstraction in the Maltese Islands

 

CONSULTATION BRIEF

Start date: 23 November 2023

Closing date: 18 January 2024

Title of the public consultation: Green Paper on the Regulation of Groundwater Abstraction in the Maltese Islands

Ministry: Ministry for the Environment, Energy and Enterprise (MEEE)

Entity: Environment and Resources Authority (ERA), Energy and Water Agency (EWA)

  1. Background

Groundwater is undeniably a strategic resource of freshwater for ensuring security of supply for our population, economic activities and agriculture. However, this resource has in the last decades suffered from quantitative and qualitative pressures which have threatened its status, and hence its capacity for sustaining Malta’s freshwater supply in the future. Over abstraction has resulted in the intrusion of saline waters in the main mean sea level aquifer systems, contributing to the gradual salinization of these important groundwater reserves, whilst the leaching of surface contaminants, such as nitrates has resulted in almost all of our groundwaters exceeding quality standards established under EU Directives.

This Green Paper proposes a way forward to regulate groundwater abstraction and ensure an effective and efficient use of this important resource. The proposals in this Green Paper are intended to protect bona-fide users of this resource and encourage users to increasingly improve efficiency in use. Importantly, the Green Paper presents a proposal for a way forward, which will be in the coming weeks actively discussed with stakeholders, with a view of together developing a definite proposal for the establishment of a national regulatory framework for groundwater which provides a high level of protection to our groundwater environment, whilst protecting the needs of users whose activities are sustained by groundwater.

This will also align Malta’s groundwater management framework with the EU’s Water Framework Directive which requires Member States to take necessary actions to ensure the protection of the natural environment, including through the establishment of water pricing policies intended to promote the efficient use of water resources.

  1. Consultation

This Green Paper proposes an outline for the development of a Groundwater Abstraction Licensing Framework intended to protect both bona-fide users of groundwater as well as the groundwater environment itself.

Stakeholders and water users are invited to provide comments on this Green Paper. Feedback received by stakeholders and water users will then be used to support the drafting of a Legal Instrument enacting a national Groundwater Abstraction Licensing Framework. The draft Legal Instrument will also be issued for public consultation as part of the process of its official enactment.

This Green Paper signals the start of a process aimed at ensuring the effective and efficient use of our groundwater resources while protecting the needs and requirements of bona fide users. This is being done with the aim of ensuring that groundwater remains an important source of freshwater, sustaining the achievement of national water supply security in the future.

  1. Documents

Green Paper on the Regulation of Groundwater Abstraction in the Maltese Islands

  1. Submission of feedback

Comments are being invited through the feedback form at publicconsultation.gov.mt or otherwise by email through [email protected]

  1. Further notes

Please be informed that comments submitted, together with the identity of the contributor, may be published online at the end of the public consultation, unless the contributor objects to the publication of his/her personal data. In this case, the contribution may be published in anonymous form.

All comments submitted shall be duly considered.