Aquifer recharge in Malta

National Id
Site name
Bulebel Industrial Estate, Malta Mean Sea Level
Aquifer recharge with highly polished treated effluents.
With a high population density and almost inexistent surface waters, Malta is in a situation of over abstraction of its groundwater resources and where its total water demand exceeds the sustainable yield of the naturally renewable freshwater resources. Demand comes from the domestic and agricultural sectors alike (the domestic use can even exceed the agricultural use with the arrival of tourists during touristic seasons). From a qualitative point of view, freshwater resources are also under threat resulting from nitrates and salt water intrusions.
The in-depth description of the case study
RBD code
Data provider
Camille Parrod, ACTeon
NWRM(s) implemented in the case study
Climate zone
warm temperate dry
Actual Test Site
Light or indepth?
Monitoring impacts effects
Monitoring location
Edge of Field/Plot
Monitoring parameters
Water level (height of water column above probe), salinity, electrical conductivity and groundwater temperature. Organic pollutants (Pharmaceuticals - Carbamezepine, Acetominophen, Diazemam, Diclofenac, Dilantin, Fluoxetine, Gemfibrozil, Hydrocodone, Ibuprofen, Iopromide, Meprobamate, Naproxen, Pentoxifylene, Mefanamic Acid
Solvents/Plasticizers/Surfactants - Dibutylphtalate, Glycol Ether, Alkyl Benzene, Dibromochloromethane, Perfluorooctanic Acid, Perfluorooctanesulfonic Acid, BisphenolA
Personal Care Products - Caffeine, Galoxolide, Oxybenzone, TCEP and DEET
Steroids - Androstenedione, Estradiol, Estriol, Estrone, Ethinylestradiol, Progesterone, Testosterone
AntiMicrobial Agents - Trimethoprim, Triclosan, Sulfamedthoxazole, Erythromycin) and conventional pollutants (electrical conductivity, chloride, nitrate and bacterial content).
Performance impact estimation method
Catchment outlet
Performance impact estimation information
Background conditions at the recharge site monitored through two wells located in the immediate vicinity of the recharge well (pre-recharge): use of two multi-parametric groundwater probes; Water level monitoring (post-recharge): use of a water level contact gauge.
Application scale
Installation date
Performance timescale
< 1 year
Area (ha)
Design capacity description
±105 mg/l of Nitrate content in the arriving effluent was mitigated, increase of ±1.3m post-artificial recharge over the drawdown levels and 0.6m over the long-term background level
Availability of sufficient treated effluent; quality of the polished effluent; production costs for delivering and polishing the effluent; short- and long-term cyclic behaviour in the water levels.
Favourable preconditions
Location (next to a wastewater treatment plant); available equipment.
Public consultation
Contractural arrangements
Design contractual arrangement
Arrangement type Responsibility Role Comments Name
Design consultation activity
Activity stage Key issues Name Comments
Design land use change
Land use change type
Design authority
Authority type Role Responsibility Name Comments
National water authority
Manuel Sapiano, Malta Resources Authority
The MRA was responsible for leading the Maltese pilot project from the MEDIWAT research project†™s point of view. &#039;MRA is also responsible for issuing authorizations (after a quality control) for injecting water into the aquifer through boreholes.
Private property owners
Water Services Corporation
The WSC was responsible for assisting MRA from a technical and operational standing point. It owns the purification plant where the experiment took place, and provided the technical expertise and equipment.
Key lessons
A hydro-geological assessment of the aquifer system must be carried out before any artificial recharge scheme using treated effluents is implemented, in order to assess the prevalence of local and regional groundwater flow should anything go wrong. Effluents should undergo further treatment in order to comply with the EU Directives' requirements concerning recharge of groundwater bodies.
Success factor(s)
Success factor type Success factor role Comments
Financing possibilities
main factor

Financing for the treatment of effluents that will be injected into the aquifer

main factor

Location of the recharge facility (close to a wastewater treatment plant)

Existing regulations
secondary factor

Enforcement of control for illegal abstractions

Financing type Comments
EU-funds: Cohesion and regional development funds
Cofinanced by the European Regional Development Fund
Barrier type Barrier role Comments
main barrier
Lack of sufficient treated wastewater resource (quantity of effluents available for recharge)
Lacking financing sources
main barrier
Cost of polishing effluent too high to be sustainable at the moment
secondary barrier
Lack of a dedicated distribution network for the re-use of treated effluent
Driver type Driver role Comments
Legal obligations
main driver
WFD requirements (annual abstraction from the groundwater body does not exceed the long-term annual average rate of overall recharge of the body of groundwater; necessary controls are in place to eliminate the possibility of any degradation in the qualitative status of the receiving body of groundwater)
main driver
Availability of European funding for research projects in this area
Financing share
Financing share type Share Comments
Policy description
Test the hydrogeological response of the aquifer system in the immediate region surrounding an artificial recharge well; test the quality of treated effluents used for artificial recharge of an aquifer
Part of wider plan
Policy target
Target purpose
Groundwater Recharge
Pollutants Removal
Policy pressure
Pressure directive Relevant pressure
Policy area
Policy area type Policy area focus Name Comments
Policy impact
Impact directive Relevant impact
Policy wider plan
Wider plan type Wider plan focus Name Comments
Policy requirement directive
Requirement directive Specification


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