San Anton Palace becomes a water-sustainability example

PRESS RELEASE BY THE OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENT OF MALTA

 In honour of World Water Day, representatives of The Office of the President of Malta, the Energy and Water Agency of Malta, and the Global Water Partnership – Mediterranean (GWP-Med), signed a Memorandum of Understanding for the rehabilitation of a rainwater harvesting reservoir at San Anton Palace, in the framework of Alter Aqua programme. The ceremony took place at the Presidential palace in Attard, right by San Anton Gardens where the water reservoir is located, in the presence of the Alter Aqua partners. These include General Soft Drinks Co. Ltd representing Coca-Cola in Malta, as the programme has been financially supported by The Coca-Cola Foundation since 2011. 

The San Anton Palace reservoir was built by the Knights of Malta in 1600, and has a capacity of 1,800,000 litres. Its rehabilitation, under the technical supervision of the Energy and Water Agency and GWP-Med, is of historic, cultural, social, and water-management significance. Harvesting rainwater today through a system built over 400 years ago highlights the intrinsic value of water solutions for sustaining life on the island. This water will be used to irrigate the orange grove of the palace and its gardens. The reservoir will have a social impact, as the produce of the orange grove is merchandised to support the Malta Community Chest Fund Foundation, a charitable foundation, which helps Maltese in need of medical assistance, provides food to the poor, and scholarships for students. Works are to be completed by the end of summer 2017. 

President of Malta Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca stated that the idea to bring the reservoir to life is part of a whole restoration project which the Presidency has undertaken at San Anton Palace. President Coleiro Preca said that “we are also committed, as a country, together with all the countries of the United Nations, to Agenda 2030 and the Sustainable Development Goals”. In light of the fact that Goal 6 of the SDGs speaks about water - water sustainability, water conservation, management of water and so on, the President added that “this project is a statement, that we are doing our part in this sense, together with other initiatives all over the globe for water sustainability and to meet the aspirations of Goal 6”. The President thanked all the stakeholders involved in this project for being a part of it – “a project which will become a reality thanks to our combined efforts”. 

“Through Alter Aqua we have succeeded to positively impact the lives of 53,000 people in the Maltese Islands by collecting and reusing more than 16 million litres of water on an annual basis. Going beyond the infrastructure works the Alter Aqua project has a special focus on schools and the organization of educational campaigns aimed at raising awareness on the application of non-conventional water resources and sustainable water use. In this regard, through the Alter Aqua project, more than 13,000 students have been educated on sustainable development in schools, while 1228 teachers have been trained since 2011.  By inspiring and teaching the next generation on how to responsibly-manage water resources, we ensure that our future is brighter and this is the legacy of this project. We recognize that these impressive results are because of the power of collective action and collaboration of the programme’s partners. I am certain that we wouldn’t have been so successful if we didn’t have partners that share the same vision and values for building thriving and prosperous communities. We can do so much together than each of us alone’’, stated Chief Operating Officer, GSD Marketing ltd Maria Micallef. 

“The Alter Aqua programme has for 6 years been consistently contributing to local water security in the Maltese Islands, by demonstrating non-conventional water resources technical solutions in public buildings and spaces and raising awareness with emphasis on youth. The reinstatement of this landmark rainwater harvesting reservoir is a milestone for the programme, and a contribution to the Maltese community and its rich history. GWP-Med’s mission is to promote sustainable utilisation of water resources and this intervention is a tangible proof of our work," said GWP-Med Executive Secretary Vangelis Constantianos. 

“Government’s strategy for the water sector is based on a conjunctive approach focused on the management of water demand and the widening of the national water resource base.  This project focused on the rehabilitation of a historical rainwater reservoir, and is fully aligned with this strategy,’’ said CEO of the Energy and Water Agency Daniel Azzopardi. 

The beauty of San Anton Palace and its gardens have always attracted tourists and locals. From now on, the gardens will also serve as an example for sustainable water practices in Malta. It will signify the connection to the past, the evolution of water management practices, and the importance of benefiting the community. 

Further information about non-conventional water resources applications in Malta or the Mediterranean, please contact Ms. Panagiota Kaltsa (panagiota@gwpmed.org

You can find the original press release here.