Bowsers taking as much as 276 million bottles of water from groundwater

In 2017, bowers extracted 552,000 cubic metres of water - 25% of all groundwater extraction metered in 2017, and 85% of all water extracted from non-agricultural commercial boreholes

Bowser water is mainly used to fill Malta's 3,896 swimming pools
Bowser water is mainly used to fill Malta's 3,896 swimming pools

Bowsers have extracted and sold a total of 552,000 cubic metres of groundwater – the equivalent of 276 million two-litre bottles of mineral water.

This amounts to 25% of all groundwater extraction metered in 2017, and 85% of all water extracted from non-agricultural commercial boreholes.

Borehole extraction from this source increased by more than 50,000 cubic metres between 2016 and 2017.

The statistics do not account for water derived from unmetered agricultural boreholes and unregistered ones.

Groundwater extraction, although metered, is not charged.

A total of 122 boreholes are registered with the Malta Resources Authority for “commercial water supply services”. 116 vehicles are authorised by Regulator for Energy and Water Services  for water transportation. `Only 17 of these are authorised to supply potable water.

Bowsers extract water without paying any charge, only to sell it at a profit to consumers who pay less for it than they would have paid for tap water.

A government spokesperson also confirmed that regulations proposed in 2009 to increase monitoring of this activity through the installation of load cells in bowsers, have never been enacted.

The installation of a load cell would have enabled the authorities to know where the bowers are being loaded with water, where the water is delivered, and the volumes involved.

“The load cell system on water tankers was not installed way back in 2011 due to technical reasons,” the government spokesperson said.

Bowser water is used mainly to fill the 3,896 swimming pools registered in Malta, which has over 12 swimming pools in every square kilometre of land.

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