The development process of the second River Basin Management Plan (RBMP) has confirmed that there are still significant challenges ahead of Malta for achieving the good status objectives of the Water Framework Directive (2000/60/EC). These challenges are mainly linked to severe water scarcity and drought conditions, high population density, high urbanisation rates, saline water intrusion, contamination, and vulnerability of coastal waters.
The main aim of the LIFE-IP RBMP-MALTA project is to support the implementation of the second RBMP through the establishment of an integrated framework for the optimised management of all water resources on the Maltese islands. To achieve this, it will seek to address the key horizontal challenges identified during a gap analysis undertaken as part of the development process for the second RBMP. The challenges will be addressed through the implementation of best practice, demonstration, pilot study, and capacity building actions.
The key horizontal challenges (i.e. the specific project objectives) are to: Increase the awareness of the need to conserve and protect water resources and dependent terrestrial, aquatic and marine ecosystems; Facilitate the uptake of measures, through demonstration actions and cases of best practices in addition to fiscal incentives, to build up the confidence of stakeholders and water users in the solutions proposed; Improve the institutional approach to measure implementation, achieving a high level of institutional and stakeholder dialogue; and Reduce uncertainty in water body status assessments through improved knowledge of water-related processes, ecosystems and ecosystem services, as well as on interactions with anthropogenic activity, with a view to inform appropriate ecosystem-based management regimes and increase the trust of stakeholders in the status assessments.
Expected results: Reduced domestic water demand by around 5%, thereby generating annual savings of around 850 000m3 in the municipal water supply; A net increase in the mean annual recharge of around 1.2 million m3, coming from alternative water sources such as rainwater runoff and highly-cleaned treated effluents; Increased capacity of wastewater treatment plants to produce highly-cleaned water and increased use of this treated wastewater (instead of groundwater); Reduced flood risk and improved groundwater status; Increased awareness on the challenges facing the water sector; and Optimised management of coastal ecosystems.
In addition, the project will strive to: Conduct water audits in 25% of Maltas households; Reach 25% of Maltas school population every year; Restore 23 ha of Maltas coastal wetland area; Restore 30 ha of Maltas valley habitat (30ha); and Develop 3 systems of sustainable urban drainage.
In addition to the IP budget itself the project will facilitate the coordinated use of 168 939 966 of complementary funding from ERDF, CF, EMFF, EAFRED, INTERREG, national and private funds, as applicable.