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Mosquito playground ‘is under our window’

Stagnant public reservoirs are breeding areas for island pest

Msida reservoir: a breeding ground for mosquitoes.

Msida reservoir: a breeding ground for mosquitoes.

While households are being warned to mop up the slightest puddles to prevent insect breeding grounds, public reservoirs are a veritable mosquito-fest.

Our feet are polka-dotted with mosquito bites

Following an article on the surge of bites all over the island, readers pointed out that open reservoirs could often be seen “swarming with mosquitoes”.

“Health authorities are telling us to drain away even water from buckets in the yard, and yet down the road we have this enormous, stagnant pool of water,” said Carmen Galea, 63, from Santa Venera.

The Msida reservoir in Valley Road, which is only a few minutes away from Ms Galea’s house, is almost full to the brim of rain water but it is visibly stagnant, full of green moss and insects buzzing around.

“Our feet are polka-dotted with mosquito bites,” said Ms Galea, referring to herself and two of her children.

“My husband and my eldest son are lucky, they never seem to get bitten.”

The problem started last year. “Before it was just normal mosquitoes, now we are being left with these huge red itchy blotches,” she said.

The area surrounding the reservoir in the limits of Pembroke is littered with rubbish and The Times spotted a dead pigeon. The reservoir is only a few steps away from the Institute of Tourism Studies kitchens, where food is handled every day.

Pembroke Mayor Joe Zammit said the area is cleaned every couple of months, but some people who frequent the area at weekends “might not have a sense of civic responsibility”.

He said the local council would like to see the reservoir – a catchment for the water coming down from High Ridge – covered up like the one in Żurrieq.

“We have no funds to cover it up ourselves, but some sort of lid would be ideal as it would allow us to use the surface for activities.”

The Environment Landscapes Consortium uses the reservoir when it needs to water anything in the vicinity.

ELC General Manger Ronald Cuschieri said: “We have the right to tap water, but its maintenance is not in our remit.”

A Resources Ministry spokes­man confirmed that it is responsible for the upkeep of the reservoirs.

“We clean them in the summer months but not in winter when they get filled up,” he said, explaining that these are soak-away reservoirs.

“Their purpose is that the water seeps in the ground and fills up the water table. We cannot cover them up,” he said.

Rubbish littering areas around the reservoirs is the responsibility of the local councils.

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