Air, fire, earth and water have been around since the beginning of time. They are the source, as they are the elements that make up everything. But what would happen if one of them goes missing? How would life be without it? How would life go on without water for instance?

Water doesn’t Seem Scarce

The root of all evil seems to lie in the fact that water is considered to be a very common resource that is easily acquired. It’s just one push of a button away or a clockwise turn of the tap. You can take a shower as many times you like and sweep the floor with as many overflowing buckets as you please, because you won’t notice the difference.  That is why the problem of water shortage is invisible to most people; citizens in developed countries are directly connected to an efficient water supply that rarely lets them down.

tap water, water shortage

The Facts Demonstrate Otherwise

Having had a very dry winter last year, it seems that this year many rejoiced over the abundant amount of rainfall during this winter, so much so that from time to time we used to get updates about the state of Chadwick Lakes.  This urge, to catch a glimpse of an overflowing lake, is at odds with the carefree attitude with which many are treating water use. They want to see nature at its best; they get in high spirits when they see gallons of water cascading over the rocks; but don’t give much thought to saving any of it.

Chadwick lakes, malta

Illegal Practice is Rampant

Things are getting worse due to the uncontrollable, very often illegal extraction of water from private boreholes. More than two years ago, hydrologist Marco Cremona warned against the huge amounts of water that are being drawn out of private boreholes without anyone supervising or controlling the whole situation.  And if that is not enough, this is being aggravated by irregular extractions from illegal boreholes. This article comes just days after the short video published by BBC Science News featuring the concerns of Hydrologist Marco Cremona.

borehole

Water doesn’t seem to be a Priority for our Politicians

Despite all advancements typical of developed countries, Malta still lacks a stringent national water plan that makes way for sustainable development. The Water Management Catchment Plan for the Maltese islands, launched way back in 2011, specified measures to manage and protect all water. At the time, almost all groundwater bodies were described as poor in nature, with high levels of nitrate and salinity, but despite this ugly truth, it seems that efforts to ensure a tenable strategy have been abandoned, even though the first plan got reassessed in 2015 with the aim of introducing a second revised plan.

ground water, malta

Some Members of Our Intelligentsia at the University of Malta Beg to Differ

While some student organisations, such as Youth for the Environment (Y4TE), work hard towards promoting ecological and sustainable activity with all their might, including the conservation of water, others are the central figures in the annual water fight that sees bowsers of fresh water going to waste. Although participants have at times collected money for a good cause, such as funds for the ALS Foundation in 2015 and funds for the Richmond foundation in 2016, this in no way makes up for all the wasted water.

waterfight, university of malta
Photo: The University of Malta

Big Industries are not Setting a Good Example

The majority of industries make use of water. They depend on huge quantities of it, and in turn, they do affect it in some way or another. Gigantic industries tend to set up shop in already water-deprived areas, exacerbating the economic and emotional burden of the indigenous people.

bottled water, industry

It certainly is a Priority for our Staunch Believers and Farmers

Last winter’s extremely dry spell and high temperatures were compared to conditions last recorded over 70 years ago, apart from the fact that they led many farmers, and their family members alike, to literally pray for the rain. Although watering crops can be carried out by reservoirs and boreholes, rainwater is the one natural source with no salt and with the right pH value. It keeps the soil moist. “We go to church every Sunday and pray for rain. Let’s hope it does,” said a local farmer interviewed by the Malta Independent last year.

Malta, farmers, rain, water

There is a Ray of Hope at the End

Although there are no real high hopes of seeing a water efficient and conscientious population on the whole any time soon, there are instances that tend to restore our faith in our people. Primarily, there is the ongoing Catch the Drop Campaign, launched in 2011 by the Ministry for Resources and Rural Affair to raise awareness about the dire need to save water. Every year, Catch the Drop travels around schools in Malta raising awareness in different manners, so much so that a song video about it has also been released.  Furthermore, seminars such as the one organised by the Cleaner Technology Centre and the European Youth Parliament for Water in collaboration with the World Water Assessment Programme UNESCO and the Energy and Water Agency, are the way forward to inform the public and work towards a sustainable water strategy.
Y4TE were once again present for this seminar; proof that youth can be on the good side of history💧

© 2017 – VIDA Magazine – Clifford Jo Zahra