Maltese River Basin District case study


Discover the maltese case study with Manuel Sapiano ⇓

This case study seeks to assess and bolster the governance mechanisms currently in place to improve their resilience in the face of anticipated challenges.

These include changes which may potentially result from climate change and population growth together with those arising from Malta’s energy dependence for water production and treatment, which also needs to be reconciled with the country’s ever increasing energy related commitments and obligations.

This should result in a more holistic governance framework which considers the Water Energy Food Ecosystem nexus based on legislation and public engagement. It also anticipates the proposal of economic tools which effectively promote resource and environmental sustainability rather than a simple recovery of financial costs.


All the islands in the Maltese archipelago are classified as a single river basin. The high population density (1670 km 2 ) and the semi-arid climate of the islands mean that Malta has the lowest per capita availability of freshwater in the EU.

Malta is increasingly dependent on non conventional water sources (i.e. recycled and desalinated water) to meet its water demand, including that of its agricultural sector. The processes involved are energy intensive and Malta’s local production of renewable energy is limited to PV technology, the deployment of which is, in turn limited by space considerations and cost of land.

It is anticipated that climate change effects such as an increased variability of precipitation and increased temperatures, will result in the lower availability of natural freshwater resources as well as an increase in water demand thereby increasing the potential of prolonged droughts and associated water scarcity.

The situation will be further exacerbated by an increasing flood risk resulting from the occurrence of extreme precipitation events. A governance program aimed at attenuating the potential impacts of these issues is therefore desirable.


The RETOUCH Nexus methodology, the water governance indicators and recommendations will be applied to one single territory However, whilst relatively limited in its geographical scope and numbers at a stakeholder and at a policy maker level, it effectively comprises an entire EU Member State.

The case study shall have a nation wide impact and relevance when it comes to the implementation of the project outcomes and can thus contribute an overview of the potential of the project outcomes at all levels of governance.

EWA is an agency of the government of Malta and is tasked with formulating both energy policy and sustainable water management policy for the country.

Methodology & expected results

The anticipated results are a more resilient and comprehensive WEFE sensitive governance framework which uses different and adapted tools to effectively address water governance in Malta equitably whilst addressing the needs of different users. Given the size and geo specific nature of water governance in small islands, whilst the model cannot be upscaled, it can be replicated in other islands, including Small Island Developing States (facing similar water management challenges).


The Governance system identifies clear institutional roles at the Policy, Regulatory and Implementation levels within a comprehensive water management framework addressing the implementation of the EU Water Acquis. Coordination is ensured through an Inter Ministerial Committee addressing the implementation process of the Water Framework and daughter Directives.

Effective engagement with stakeholders is ensured through the establishment of a National Water Table which brings together stakeholders from the public and private sector to discuss and follow the implementation of key planning documents such as the RBMP and the FRPM.


Keyhigh level indicators are established to monitor the effectiveness of the national water management framework. These indicators also address the sub objectives identified under SDG 6. These key high level indicators include (i) National Management Plans in place and their level of implementation (ii) Security of Supply of population with access to drinking water/sanitation) (iii) Economic (Level of Cost Recovery for Municipal Water supply) (iv) Social Level of Stakeholder Engagement (National Water Table meetings).

These high level indicators are complemented by quantitative indicators at the level of each measure included under the RMBP and the FRMP, which are monitored by the IMC of the WFD.


In the execution of the Maltese Case Study, EWA plans to engage public participation and stakeholder engagement primarily through the National Water Table, which is a consultative grouping of stakeholders. It includes entities involved in the implementation of Malta’s River Basin Management Plan, of which EWA is the lead entity, other public entities, NGOs and voluntary organisations as well as private sector entities (including groups and associations thereof together with individuals). The group meets on an ongoing basis to assess the progress achieved and to provide technical and other input, based on each participant’s area of interest or expertise. This is intended to ensure the establishment of a continuous consultation process through which stakeholders can be involved in the development of the approaches and measures required for the achievement of objectives. It is anticipated that this participation may be extended to participation in the assessment and formulation of a holistic water governance system for the Maltese islands.