Accelerate for Water Security – Questions & Answers

29th September 2022
We had an overwhelming amount of questions submitted during the second module of the Malta Sustainabilty Forum, ‘Accelerate for Water Security’. We didn’t have time to answer all of them during the live transmission, however we have sourced some answers to your questions from Ing. Ronald Pace, Manager (Desalination Unit) - Water Services Corporation.

Question 1: Many consumers complain that the mains water has an unpalatable taste. What sort of filter would improve the taste of drinking water?

Water supplied by WSC to its customers is potable and in line with the requirements of the Drinking Water Directive. Still some customers opt for a carbon filter to control the slight taste of Chlorine. Moreover, the WSC’s mission is to lower the chloride level (salinity) of the water and the multi-million Euro tunnel project from Pembroke RO to Ta’ Qali reservoirs has this particular scope.

Question 2: Is it environmentally sustainable and does it make economic sense to deliver all mains water at top drinking quality, when most of it will go to flushing toilets and washing clothes? Would it make more sense for government to fund water filtering systems in homes to only filter to top quality the water that's used for drinking only?

WSC is required by law to deliver potable water to every household.

Question 3: Why is it that although we have smart meters as yet we still request manual reading of the meter.

This is only carried out as a cross check.

Question 4: If there is an oil spill at sea, the reverse osmosis supply would be compromised seriously - how long could we last without this and is there a plan to obtain water from other sources in this case?

Seawater feeding the RO Plants is not taken from the surface of the sea, but from deep boreholes near the shore and so the impact of an oil spill close to the shore should not be catastrophic. In that eventuality the affected Plant would be switched off as a safety measure until is it assured that the feedwater does not have any hydrocarbon contaminants. WSC has a number of RO plants (at different locations) which, together with substantial water reserves, provide a robust water supply system even if one plant is out of production for a number of days.

Question 5: When I walk by the desalination plants there is always run off water. This can most probably be used after adding chlorine for grey water (flushing for house households). Can this not be proposed at least to the towns close by?

Assuming the question is referring to the brine reject flowing out into the sea, this is highly saline water which cannot be re-used. It is not considered as grey water.

Question 6: WSC are making their upmost to have better quality potable water by reducing chloride levels. Isn't it a contradicting that there is a government grant scheme to install domestic water purifying equipment?

WSC delivers good potable water in line with international quality standards. This scheme was not issued by WSC.

Question 7: No one talks about the waste product from desalinisation, which makes the ocean more saline and then costs more to desalinate. How can we better reduce demand of such water?

The reject from an RO Plant is a must; it is part of the conversion process. The WSC, and practically all Desalination operators around the world, would optimise their operations and cost and thus limit the amount of reject that flows out to the sea. WSC continuously monitors the brine discharged into the marine environment to ensure that it has no adverse effect. When brine is properly disposed no adverse effects on the environment were observed.