Water Budget Analysis Of Malta
Water is an essential resource with consistently high demand. While water is perceived as inexhaustible, growing global populations and rapid urbanization has placed pressure on available freshwater resources. These growing demands have the resulted in freshwater shortages in certain areas. On the other hand, some naturally wet regions or regions that become wetter due to climatic changes battle with the challenges of surplus water and have a greater tendency for flooding. In both scenarios, strategic monitoring and management of the available water resources is expedient to attain a water balance.
Water is constantly being added to the earth from the atmosphere, subsequently, it retains a circular flow through different process, until it returns to the atmosphere and continues the cycle. These processes combine to form the hydrological cycle. The hydrological cycle accounts for the natural movement of water in and out of the earth, however with technological advancements and emerging sustainable water resource approaches, they have been artificial influences and interference with the hydrological cycle. There are various components of the hydrological cycle, however the key components include Precipitation, Evaporation and Evapotranspiration. Precipitation also known as rainfall is the main source of water into the earth. It is the resultant effect of water vapor cooling and condensing in the clouds. Nevertheless seasonal variations has an impact on the volume of water received via precipitation per time. The term precipitation refers to rain, sleet, snow, or hail. On the. …..
On the other hand, evaporation is a critical component of the Hydrological cycle, that accounts for reduction of the earth’s water. ….. defined evaporation as the escape of water vapor from the earth surface, due to heat reactions. In this process, water is extracted from the sea, in form of vapor, due to a rise in temperature. Similarly, evapotranspiration refers to the loss of water from land or water surfaces also in form of water vapor. In both cases water is being returned into the atmosphere. While these three process are major components of the water budget, other contributory components, include surface runoff and ground water.
The surface runoff, also known as a spring, is the water that flows off the slope of a water basin when precipitation occurs. The surface runoff usually adds to the volume of streams and oceans. The ground water component of the cycle refers to water that infiltrates permeable layers and is retained in aquifers. To gain insight into the relationship between components of the water cycle, a water budget analysis is required. This knowledge is necessary for planning and decision making as it concerns the availability or storage of water. The water budget suggests that the variation in the volume of water in store in a geographical area, is brought to an equilibrium by the transportation of water into and outside the area(usgs). The water budget calculations can be used to ascertain the difference between the output and influx of water in a catchment area. ….. further described this difference as the change in storage. It has also been explained as the equilibrium between rainfall, evapotranspiration and surface runoff data in an area. In essence the water budget calculation can be expressed using various familiars, depending on the purpose of the calculation or perhaps the available data(), While various equations have been derived to calculate the water budget, the simply equation for the water budget identifies four main contributory factors, these are same factors which form the main components of the earths hydrological cycle. Water budgets can be calculated at various scales, depending on the need. At the national scale, water budget calculations equips the government and other stakeholders with data about the volume of water accessible for human use. Subsequently, this information
informs policies and initiatives to be created to deal with trends, gap and growing demands. Calculating a water budget can appear quite straight forward, however the process attracts various challenges. First, the calculation of water budget requires data to be accessed, water resource professionals may experience limitations in terms of accessing the appropriate data for a proposed water budget analysis. Where the data is available, an additional concern of accuracy might arise. Owing to the sensitivity of a water budget inaccurate data has the tendency create an issue for planners. Individual data for variables for a water budget calculation on an annual scale are simply the average of their occurrence over 12months. Due to seasonal variation it can be challenging to get an adequate perspective of the water resource availability, except calculations, are expressed to cover shorter periods, such as months.
Global freshwater usage has increased by 6 times since the year 1900() and has continued to rise annually. From 1950 onwards the rate increase spiked even further (). According to UNEDSA 2017, The global population is expected to increase by over 2 billion between 2017- 2050, with urban areas accommodating over 65% of the worlds population(). Over 50% of this increase in anticipated to occur in Africa and Asia. This increase has been largely attributed to a rapidly growing and urbanization population, as well as a changing human consumption behavior ().
A current issue in the discussion of Global water is the adverse effect of climatic changes on water resources. Currently, surface and ground water deficit is already a concern for some countries, and the availability of these resources are bound to decline further in the next 30 years, without proper structuring.
Some European countries are challenged with water deficits and overburdened aquifers, resulting from their dependance on ground water resources. Another influence of water resource volumes, is the contamination of available fresh water resources, human activities and unsafe environmental practice. The reality is that the demand on freshwater is not expected to decrease, as water remains an integral aspect of life. The challenge is for all stakeholders of the water resource management to combine initiatives and attain a balance based on the demands. This process however begins with a comprehensive knowledge of the water availability. This paper discusses the water resource system in Belgium and attempts to calculate a basic water budget of the area.MALTA
Malta is a small island located in Southern Europe, at the centre of the Mediterranean Sea. The republic of Malta is an archipelago consisting of Malta, as its main island and the island, Gozo and Comino In terms of its area, Malta is categorized amongst the ten smallest nations, with a population density that contrasts its size, the country stands at fourth place in the list of highly populated independent territories. In 2019, the population of Malta sat at 494,000 people. with over 90 percent of the total population resident in the urban areas(eurostat). The republic of Malta is known to attract tourists all year round, owing to its beautiful scenery and reach history. The tourism population is estimated at 1.6million tourist annually.
Malta has a semi-arid Mediterranean climate, characterized by mild winters and low rainfall, experienced only in winter and autumn, while the summers are dry with high temperatures. The coldest month in Malta has been identified as January with average maximum temperature of 15oC in the day and an average minimum of 9oC. The hottest month in the area has been identified as August, with an average maximum of 31oC in the day and an average minimum of 22oC at night. Between 1900 and 2000 the distinctive variations in rainfall volume was recorded, the average yearly rainfall was estimated at 550mm. Additionally, the landscape of the area prevents the prospect of surface water formation. Water flows in the land area very briefy after occasional rainfall. In essence, the Geography of Malta has accounted for the countries natural water deficit, especially considering its high population density. This situation has placed the country in the first ten countries with water scarcity globally.
For the purpose of this paper, a simple water Budget calculation would be done to understand the present situation of Malta’s water resources situation using precipitation(P) and evapotranspiration(ET) data from 2108. The difference between these two components (P-ET), would provide a perspective on the natural water resource process obtainable in the area. According to Eurostat,2018: P= 189.51 million m3 and E=94.55 million m3
Therefore, P-E is 189.51-94.55= 94.96 million metre cube or 94,960,000 m3
In km3, this can be expressed as 0.095km3
=0.0095 x 10km3
An application of an historic benchmarks for identifying water stressed countries proves the challenging water resource situation in Malta. Falkenmark, (1989) developed a metrics for categorizing countries by their flow unit per 100people. According to this classification, countries where a water flow of 1000000m3 was available to less than 600 people annually, were normal and nations, where the same volume was available to up to 600 people annually, were water stressed. A country experiencing scarcity was further classified as a country where a water flow volume of 1000000m3 was available to 1000 people and more. The population of Malta in 2018, was estimated at 475,701 people, when analysed against the value of precipitation excess, the country automatically falls into the category of countries with water scarcity. After, the process of Evapotranspiration, the freshwater left can barely cater for the entire population.
Owing to the unavailability of surface water, ground water resources are the main source of water in Malta. However, the ground water source have been over utilized and have an increased tendency of contamination. As the ground water is further exploited its
Impacts of Water Scarcity on Policies, Industries and the Economy.
The first water policy in Malta was introduced in the 16th century, the policy mandated every family resident in the city to collect rainwater in individual water reservoirs called cistern. Subsequently, several government policies were introduced to manage the water deficit situation on the Island. In response to the over utilization of aquifers, the Ground water Ordinance policy was presented in the concluding 1930’s. After Malta’s inauguration into the European Union, it naturally adopted the Water Framework Directive. This piece of legislation focuses on gudelines for monitoring, preserving and enhancing all forms of waters resources, including; aquifers, spring, streams. The essence of these policies is to foster the formulation of sustainable strategies for resource efficient and futuristic systems to cope with water challenges. Apart from the natural deficit challenges, contending factors such as a booming tourist economy, advancement in the agricultural industry, an increasing urban population and the effects of climate change, place pressure and water resources in Malta.
An additional legislative attempt to monitor water exploitation in Malts, is the high cost of water. Water is assumed to be a free resource()but for Malta’s population, the cost of clean water is expensive. This is an attempt to place a check on water usage.
The desalination of sea water has been an ongoing initiative, from the early 1980’s. The desalination of sea water was introduced as an addition to underground water sources. This involves the desalination and filtering of sea water in a plant, mostly through a process of Reverse Osmosis, thus making the water suitable for municipal use. The downside is the expensive and energy intensive nature of the process, this expenditure is bound to impact Malta’s economy. Also, the byproduct of the desalination process, known as Brine, is a major pollutant of marine resources.
A local in Malta has been programmed to use an average of ….. in a day. Nevertheless, with a booming tourism market maintain this consumption rate poses a challenge. The water conservation campaign was therefore introduced as a means of creating an awareness for foreigners to understand the water situation in Malta.
Surface water is almost non-existent in Malta as it scarcely occurs. Surface water created from occasional high precipitation is saved in small dams and preserved for
As part of the Water Resource Plan in Malta, the island initiated a water recycling program, where municipal wastewater is recycled through wastewater treatment plans. This project is part of an initiative known as the “new water”. Water collected in this process is mainly utilized for agricultural purposes. The process is seen to be viable as it has been estimated to produce 7000000m3 of water.
Effect of Climate Change
The outcome of climate change in the Maltese Island, is anticipated to mainly entail, a heightened average yearly temperature(), with an increased possibility of drought in the summer seasons(IPCC). On the other hand, the average rainfall in a year is expected to increase, with an increase in heavy rainfall is projected over long periods. These extremes are can lead to events of flooding, food shortages, heat waves. The sea level is also predicted to increase above its present level. While this information raises independent concerns. Malta’s challenge is increased by the impact of these trends on other key aspects of the economy.
Climatic changes are prone to heighten the present hydrologic challenges of Malta. In the agricultural industry, these changes are predicted to reduce the farming produce, weaken the harvest, negatively impact the planting periods and eventually result in a higher pressure on freshwater for irrigation purposes.
Climate change in the Island has a major impact on sea levels. Where a slight change may result in the contamination and increased salinity of the aquifer. Based on the Malta’s location a key concern would be the issue of coastal flooding.
A reduction in the average annual precipitation, would drop the water availability in aquifers and further pollute the ground water,
The relationship between the Energy Sector and climatic change is quite symbiotic in nature. Gases emitted from the energy sector are key instigators of climate change and the trends in climatic change influences the energy industry. Variation in the Malta’s weather, particularly high temperatures, reduced rainfall and precipitation, can interfere with processes involved in Malta’s energy sector, including; cooling at power plants, storage, energy distribution, and conduction. This interference is forecasted to increase the pressure on the energy demand. Nevertheless, there is perspective that climatic change may have some positives in terms of the energy sector holistically.
Transport is a key Global concern, when discussing the topic of climatic change, with numerous impact areas. More so, the question of how much impact the transport industry in Malta can handle is the greater issue. Amidst several impact areas, intensified periods of heavy rainfall and a spike in annual temperature, leading to flooding and road deterioration are forecasted to interrupt the functionality of airports and roads both short term and long term in the coming years, without the required reinforcements.
The construction Industry in Malta is at risk of experiencing the degradation and eventual collapse of building structures overtime. Excessive heat and excessive rainfall periods have the propensity to beak down materials of existing structures. Particularly the globigerina limestone peculiar to Malta is a building material, with low tolerance for crystallized salt and as such rising sea levels pose a threat to structures with the limestone material. Buildings at the coast are even more susceptible to these changes.
Based on the Implication of climatic change in the Island, obvious health concerns are associated with the result of extreme weather. These events include, hurricanes, flooding and possible periods of draught. Additionally, weather variations may negatively impact the availability and quality of food and water supply, thus straining water resources and the agricultural industry. A direct health concern could also arise from the mental stress of coping with climatic changes as a person.
Tourism is presently a lucrative industry and a major contributor to the nations economy. However, the tourism in interdependent on other industries such as the transport and agricultural industry. Therefore, climate change related issues in connected industries are bound to negatively influence the tourism. Also, events of flooding and heat waves are predicted to decline the Malta tourism market if not properly managed.
Each industry specific impact has a relationship with the economic sector. Ranging from expenditure for mitigation, redefinition, repairing or rebuilding post climatic change effect to a decline in revenue from industry limitations. Each industry requires funding to cope with ongoing and expected challenges of climate change in Malta, Therefore the climate change would equally impact the economy of malta holistically. Primarily due to increased spending and a decline in revenue
Conclusion and what need to change.
Burdened with a growing internal population, a thriving tourism industry and predictions of the climate change effects, it is imperative that the Malta government invests in the future of water in Malta. The available sources of water in the country are over exploited and as such additional initiatives are of the essence, to satisfy the increasing demands.
Global practices are presently focused on the concept of resource efficiency and sustainable management. This concept centers on using resources in a manner that benefits people and the environment, without causing a future deficit to the resource. The new water initiative shows sustainable and prospects, with reclamation of wastewater as its main source and as such, should be a key focus area in the Islands water plan.
In recent times, Aquifer Storage and Retrieva(ASR)l, has been identified as environment friendly method of preserving ground water. This process, as the name implies, undertakes a process where underground water and retrieving for future uses.. A study in Belgium recorded a 98% recovery rate from ASR wells. The study found that ASR programs have the capacity to convserve fresh water in a sustainable manner (Wasif and Hasan, 2020). Based on Malta’s reliance ground water focus ASR projects could be an effective method of water conservation
Water technology as can be seen in countries like Saudi Arabia and Israel have provided dramatic and specialized solutions to water resource management. With steady successful developments in technology. The application of suitable water technology is a thriving solution to water challenges in Malta. ()
Finally, a unified collaboration between the government, researchers, professionals, public representatives and other stakeholders in water resource management, is advisable to address the