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Blocked culvert causes flooding at nature reserve

The authorities yesterday forced a kiosk owner to let wardens from the Ghadira nature reserve inspect a culvert in which a blockage had formed, flooding the reserve and neighbouring fields. Photo: Chris Sant Fournier.

The authorities yesterday forced a kiosk owner to let wardens from the Ghadira nature reserve inspect a culvert in which a blockage had formed, flooding the reserve and neighbouring fields. Photo: Chris Sant Fournier.

The Ghadira nature reserve and nearby fields are still flooded after the recent rains because an illegal extension of a nearby beach kiosk has blocked access to a culvert that allows water to drain out.

The authorities yesterday forced the kiosk owner to let wardens from the reserve inspect the culvert and it was found that a blockage had formed further along, underneath the street.

The wardens are now hoping to clear the blockage today with the help of the Civil Protection Department.

Charles Gauci, one of the wardens of the reserve run by BirdLife, said that had the illegal structure not been there the problem would have been solved earlier.

The water level in the reserve is 25 cm higher than it should be, causing a serious threat to its ecosystem.

Usually the water levels are managed in order to ensure optimum conditions for breed-ing and bird migration, something that is especially important during periods of prolonged rain as were experienced recently.

Ironically, this same rainfall saved the reserve from an arson attack that took place on Wednesday because the grass was still wet and so the fire did not spread.

However, the water has also caused a problem to farmers whose crops are being ruined by the saturated soils.

Mr Gauci said he had been told by the planning authority that the extension to the kiosk was built illegally.

A spokesman for the Malta Environment and Planning Authority confirmed that an enforcement notice was issued against the extension and it was scheduled for enforcement action.

He said the water would be drained as a matter of urgency.

Mepa did not say when the illegal structure will be removed. Until then, access to the culvert will remain problematic.

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