The River Basin Management Plan is prepared every six years in line with the EU Water Framework Directive (WFD), which requires an integrated approach to the management of water environment at a river basin district level, which translates into the water catchment district level in Malta’s case, as per Water Policy Framework Regulations.

The river basin/water catchment district is an area of land where water from rain drains into a body of water such as groundwater, inland surface water and coastal waters. Due to its size Malta has one such district and one River Basin  Management Plan (RBMP), covering the whole of its territory and the different water bodies.

The overall aim of the RBMP is to ensure the sustainable management of water resources and the protection of aquatic ecosystems associated with our natural waters. This is achieved through the definition of a set of measures (Programme of Measures) addressing the most significant challenges that Malta’s water resources are facing.

The water bodies identified through the RBMP are representative of the waters covered by the WFD, namely all inland waters – comprising ground waters, watercourses and permanent pools – as well as transitional waters, and coastal waters up to one nautical mile. These water bodies are used for reporting and assessing compliance with the Directive’s objectives.

Significant emphasis is also placed on ensuring a participatory approach in the development of the RBMP, which entails the active involvement and consultation of stakeholders in the different phases of the process.

The plans developed in each six-year cycle are available from the below links.

During the first two six-year cycles of the WFD implementation, Malta’s Plan was termed the ‘Water Catchment Management Plan’ in line with the relevant national legislation.

Third cycle – Malta’s 3rd River Basin Management Plan

Malta’s third River Basin Management Plan (3rd RBMP) has been prepared by the Environment & Resources Authority together with the Energy & Water Agency, to address the environmental objectives set out by the EU’s Water Framework Directive (WFD).

Malta’s 3rd RBMP provides a status assessment of inland and coastal waters in the Maltese Islands and identifies the measures necessary to ensure the achievement of good conditions in these water bodies.

The 3rd RBMP also includes a programme of measures to address the country’s water management, with specific focus on the significant water management issues which characterise Malta’s water sector.

The development and implementation of the River Basin Management Plans involved extensive stakeholder consultation both throughout its development and implementation process. Following the closure of the public consultation period on the 18th March 2024, the finalised version of the 3rd RBMP is available here.


Malta’s 3rd River Basin Management Plan
Technical DocumentSurface waters: Characterisation & Heavily Modified Water Bodies
Technical Document – Surface waters: Pressures and Impacts
Technical Document – Surface waters: Monitoring Network
Technical Document – Surface waters: Status Assessment
Technical Document – Surface waters: Environmental Objectives and Exemptions
Public Consultation submissions and responses

Consultation – Timetable for the formulation of Malta’s 3rd Water Catchment Management Plan
Consultation – Significant Water Management Issues in preparation for Malta’s 3rd Water Catchment Management Plan
Consultation – Malta’s 3rd River Basin Management Plan

Second cycle – Malta’s 2nd Water Catchment Management Plan

Malta’s Second Water Catchment Management Plan covers the period 2016 – 2021. This Second Plan assesses the new challenges that have been identified through implementation of the First Water Catchment Management Plan. Furthermore an increase in knowledge on the state of our surface waters due to better monitoring results have enabled additional water management issues to be identified. Thus the second plan aimed to target water management issues which Malta failed to identify or deal with under the first cycle. It proposes actions or measures needed to deal with the various significant issues identified in the plan and revises the 2011 set objectives for those waters that were deemed to be at risk of not achieving good water status by 2015.

The implementation of the Second WCMP is being supported by a LIFE IP project led by the Energy & Water Agency and co-financed under the EU LIFE Programme.

During the second cycle the intercalibration of all four biological quality elements in coastal waters was successfully carried out.

Second Water Catchment Management Plan
SEA Screening Matrix
EU Reporting Creative Commons License​

Intercalibration Report for two Biological Quality Elements: Posidonia oceanica and Macroalgae
Intercalibration Report for two Biological Quality Elements: Phytoplankton and Benthic invertebrates

First cycle – Malta’s 1st Water Catchment Management Plan

Malta’s First Water Catchment Management Plan covers the period 2010 – 2015 and was adopted in March 2011. It represented the most significant milestone in the implementation of the EU Water Framework Directive in Malta at that time, and provided a summary of the implementation process of the WFD since Malta’s accession to the European Union in 2004. Instead of focusing on groundwaters and surface waters individually, it is holistic in its approach since it considers the integrated management of groundwaters and surface waters at the water catchment scale.
The Plan was developed following extensive consultations with identified stakeholders throughout 2007 and 2009. It included measures for achieving the environmental objectives of the Water Framework Directive and spelt out the steps needed to protect, enhance and improve the water environment of Malta and Gozo.

First Water Catchment Management Plan