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Letters | Wednesday, 24 March 2010 Issue. 156

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MRA’s groundwater strategy

Reference is made to article “Water Crisis? What water crisis” by James Debono, published by Malta Today on Wednesday 18 March. The article grossly distorts the reply of the Malta Resources Authority regarding statements by various authors who claim that groundwater will vanish in 15 years’ time.
The article quotes Marco Cremona saying “over-abstraction leads to salinization of the aquifer, rendering it useless in economic and practical terms”.
The Authority is nowhere denying this fact, being simple physics and understandable to all. However, going far and hypothesising an outright depletion within a well-defined period can only be accepted if supported by sound science and reliable observations.
The Malta Resources Authority reiterates its position in appealing for caution and strongly rebuts that it “is keen to downplay fears of an all-out emergency”. We are not in any way trying to water down the gravity of the situation. On the contrary, the Authority has always promoted and recommended corrective policy measures that will gradually restore the status of groundwater to its pristine conditions.
The adoption of these measures and their prioritisation at national scale is, however, not a prerogative of the MRA.
We have always made public the status of the aquifers in several of our publications in the most open and transparent manner. Never did we hide any of the facts and findings as these evolved along the years. After all, the Authority could possibly gain more public acclaim were it to disseminate a doom scenario. Instead, we always sought to be credible by explaining facts as recorded and observed, without resorting to disproportionate means to attract public conscience. Such a shortsighted strategy would lead nowhere, but would only create panic and subject the taxpayer to unfair financial burdens.
In the light of its legal remit therefore, the Authority will continue to protect our national resource base in an integrated fashion by balancing environmental and socio-economic concerns. This will be done within the framework of our corporate functions as prescribed by the MRA Act. Finally yet importantly, we will continue to advocate good water governance as we always have, and promote sustainable practices for groundwater, including its regulated abstraction that should be effectively metered and made subject to a licensing regime.
We believe that our balanced strategy will, in the long term, lead to a gradual recovery of groundwater to the benefit of future generations.

It is simply not true to say that the article ‘grossly distorted’ the MRA’s reply to our questions. On the contrary, the MRA’s statements were faithfully reported without any significant alterations.



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