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258 businesses and hotels sign up to save service water

A storm brews over Mdina. Climate change models forecast less rain but more storms for Malta, resulting in less freshwater available to recharge depleting groundwater sources. Photo: Neil Howard

A storm brews over Mdina. Climate change models forecast less rain but more storms for Malta, resulting in less freshwater available to recharge depleting groundwater sources. Photo: Neil Howard

More than 250 hotels and businesses nationwide have signed up to a 30-month European project which will identify ways to help them save on service water.

The €330,000 project is designed to evaluate each business’s water consumption patterns

Launched in October, the ‘EU Life+ Investing in Water’ project is administered in Malta by a partnership led by the Malta Business Bureau, and supported by the Malta Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise and Industry, and the Malta Hotels and Restaurants Association.

Malta project manager Geoffrey Saliba told The Sunday Times the businesses were approached on the basis of their considerable consumption of service water, which is classified as water used by hotel guests or water for personal use on the job by employees. The organisations, numbering 258 in all, include some of Malta’s largest employers, Mr Saliba said.

The €330,000 project is designed to evaluate each business’s water consumption patterns so that tailor-made solutions are drawn up by experts to help companies reduce waste and increase efficiency. Each will be offered technical advice and consultation to adopt the suggested measures.

These services will be provided for free by the partnership. The project is 50 per cent co-financed by the European Community’s ‘Life’ funding programme; the main funding comes from the Office of the Prime Minister. Additional support has been pledged by Easydry Malta, APS Bank, Island Hotels Group, and MSV Life.

“Water consumption analysis of these firms will be carried out over the next six months,” Mr Saliba explained. “The studies will be led by a team of water experts.

“They may identify wastage through basic causes such as unnecessary amounts of water used for toilet flushing or the absence of water flow regulators.”

Several companies may already have some water-saving measures in place, but the experts will suggest how they can reduce their consumption further.

The project seeks to identify what the state of play is across the industry. These first candidates will be among those which stand to gain most from this exercise.

Audits have started to be carried out at some premises and preliminary data collection is near completion.

Mr Saliba explained how the project could contribute to increased water consumption efficiency across all industry. Audits and solutions could be packaged for future implementation in most types of businesses.

Launching the project’s first candidates, MBB chief executive officer Joe Tanti encouraged more businesses to come forward.

“Water is critical to the operations of many businesses and hotels. Yet it is a scarce resource which is only getting scarcer.”

The project aims to help businesses be proactive, preventing this scarcity from impacting on the sustainability and competitiveness of their operations, he stressed.

In 2008, the Malta Environment and Planning Authority’s State of the Environment report found that with only 50 cubic metres of renewable water per capita, Malta was one of the world’s top 10 countries for water scarcity. Around 45 per cent of public water used in Malta in 2008 was extracted from groundwater sources.

If private groundwater is taken into account, the rate of groundwater extraction is 47 per cent higher than the sustainable yield.

Over the past few years, Malta’s business community has been warned that unless water is managed more sustainably, it will have to increasingly resort to reverse osmosis plants to desalinate water, consuming more electricity in an expensive process.

The arrangement will lead to rising costs, seriously impacting competitiveness.

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