The Water Services Corporation (WSC) was established in 1992 in Malta to take over the responsibilities of the former Water Works Department. The WSC is responsible for all aspects of the water cycle in the Maltese Islands and employs approximately 1,200 people. It is responsible for the extraction of groundwater, the production of drinking water through reverse osmosis, and the collection, treatment, and safe disposal of wastewater.
The WSC is one of the most experienced operators of large-scale reverse osmosis plants, producing around 34 million cubic meters of potable water each year. Around 20 million cubic meters of this water is produced at the three reverse osmosis plants in Pembroke, Ċirkewwa, and Għar Lapsi. The rest is produced from underground sources and stored in 24 reservoirs with a total capacity of 400,000 cubic meters. The water is then distributed to over 550,000 people through a network of over 2,200 kilometers of pipes.
Before the creation of the WSC, water shortages were a major political and social issue in Malta. The WSC’s main goal was to boost water production and solve the water shortage problems. After solving the water shortage problems, the WSC then focused on reducing infrastructural leakages. It invested in high-quality leakage detection equipment, professionally trained technicians, and engaged external contractors to repair the network. The results were very encouraging, and allowed water production to be reduced while still fully supplying an ever-increasing demand.
The WSC is a key player in the water industry in Malta, responsible for managing the entire water cycle. With 30 years of experience and highly skilled engineers and technicians, the WSC has made great strides in ensuring a reliable water supply for the people of Malta.
The Water Services Corporation (WSC) has completed several important infrastructural projects in its 30-year history.
One of the most significant projects is the underground tunnel linking Pembroke to Ta’ Qali, which aims to improve the quality of potable water and reduce energy costs and infrastructural corrosion.
In striving to improve operations according to EU regulations and following a strongly growing economy and unprecedented increase in tourism, the Corporation decided to reduce the chloride levels in the potable water system whilst keeping all water quality parameters in check. This massive project will have far-reaching beneficial effects on the quality of potable water and will significantly reduce energy costs and infrastructural corrosion.
This EU-funded project also caters for future growth in water demand. Furthermore, directly linking Pembroke with Ta’ Qali will mean that dosing with lime at the RO plant end will be significantly reduced. This “aggressive” RO water will be neutralised more efficiently by the calcium naturally present in the groundwater at Ta’ Qali.
This project will result in reduced pumping of water uphill, saving electricity and reducing frictional losses. Additionally, it will cater for future growth in water demand, reduce dosing costs, improve water quality, and create a supply buffer during electricity supply cuts. The improved water quality will also encourage people to reduce their use of bottled water, contributing to environmental and social justice initiatives.
The quality and safety of the water produced by the Corporation is constantly checked by the WSC’s laboratory, which is fully accredited by both the National Accreditation Body of the Malta Standards Authority and the United Kingdom Accreditation Services (UKAS).
Every year thousands of samples are collected upon which physical, chemical, and bacteriological tests are carried out. Moreover, thousands of samples are tested yearly from all stages of the sewage treatment plants. Tests range from raw sewage to treated effluent and serve both as a process control as well as to benchmark against the Urban Wastewater Treatment Directive.
The same rigorous testing is also carried out on New Water to confirm that the quality reaches at least the minimum requirements for water reuse regulation. The laboratory also performs services for private customers and tests newly laid mains, and unidentified water leakages, and handles sewer discharge permits. The WSC Laboratory was the first in Malta to achieve accreditation to ISO 17025 within the National Accreditation Board Malta
The Water Services Corporation in Malta has launched an ambitious plan to re-use treated effluent and turn it into high-quality non-potable water.
The Corporation has built New Water treatment plants in Mellieħa, Gozo, and Ta’ Barkat and established a comprehensive infrastructure for distribution. As of 2020, there were 25 dispensers in Malta and 6 in Gozo, serving 440 farmers in Malta and 325 in Gozo, who have reported better quality crops and higher yields.
The Corporation is gradually increasing production and laying more distribution mains to make the secondary water more widely available to farmers and reduce over-abstraction of groundwater, leading to its recovery and improvement in quality. This initiative is the Corporation’s holistic solution to Malta’s water problems and aims to boost agriculture and the country’s social and economic growth.
The Water Services Corporation (WSC) has been at the forefront of utilizing technology to provide its customers with efficient and effective water services. The Strategic Information Directorate, established in 2013, has been responsible for developing new technologies and solutions that have been integrated into the corporation. The WSC has implemented automated meter management (AMM) system “smart meters,” the first nation to fully roll out this infrastructure. These smart meters not only provide a handy and big data generator but also help to reduce the levels of “Non-Revenue Water” (NRW) through the creation of algorithms capable of mimicking the intelligence of human meter readers. Additionally, the WSC has implemented ESRI technology for Geographic Information Systems (GIS), which provides a geographic visualisation of the potable and wastewater networks and helps in providing better customer service. Through the WSC’s online portal, customers can access their hourly consumption profile and information about water services in their area. The WSC is proud of its 30-year history and continues to strive to serve its customers and nation through technology and innovative solutions while avoiding financial burdens on consumers.
One of the WSC’s most significant milestones was, however, the incorporation of the former Drainage Department in 2004, making it responsible for the complete water cycle from production and distribution of water, to the collection and treatment of wastewater. From 2005 to 2011 three completely new wastewater treatment plants were constructed, one in Gozo, another in Mellieha and the ultimate one at Ta’ Barkat which became fully operational by the end of May 2011. So for the first time ever, Malta is treating 100% of its wastewater prior to being discharged at sea. Malta is the first country in the Mediterranean and only the seventh in Europe to reach this goal.