Fighting floods in Malta

Although the climate of Malta is dry in summers, severe flash floods generally occur between September and January, resulting in actual flooding, economic losses and disruption to both traffic and people’s lives. The National Flood Relief Project is making great strides to reduce the risks to life and property caused by uncontrolled surface water runoff.

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The National Flood Relief Project (NFRP) is targeting the lack of an adequate storm water management system in Malta by constructing a network of underground tunnels, canals and bridges is being constructed in order to provide better storm water drainage for priority areas of the Maltese islands as defined in the country's Storm Water Master Plan.

The flood relief infrastructure covers 65 km2 of the Maltese territory and is capable of handling a storm with a return period of 5 years. It is also expected to increase water catchment from 300 000 cubic metres to 650 000 cubic metres per year.

From upstream to underground

Specifically, the concept involves draining rain water away from upstream areas into underground infrastructure. This allows the water to be diverted away from low lying and urbanised areas further downstream. It is then discharged to the sea at the most suitable points in terms of route, hydraulic efficiency, cost-effectiveness and local environment.

The NFRP covers nine localities in four different basins: Birkirkara-Msida, Gzira, Qormi-Marsa and Marsascala. It is geographically divided into two project areas.

In line with the European Floods Directive

Floods have been recognised as potentially undermining Europe’s drive towards sustainable development, and indeed in Malta flash floods have impacted, directly and indirectly, all economic and production sectors of the Maltese islands. This project is helping Malta meet the requirements of the European Floods Directive, which aims to manage the risks that floods pose to human health, the environment, cultural heritage and economic activity.

In light of today's pressing need to conserve water, a pilot project is also exploring the possibility of re-using storm water from both urban and rural areas. In addition, potential water quality issues are being addressed by the installation of separator plants across the region.

Experts predict that the NFRP is benefiting some 165 000 Maltese residents. In addition, it is estimated that 34 jobs are being created during the implementation of the project.

Total investment and EU funding

Total investment for the “National Flood Relief Project” is EUR 62 505 662 with the EU’s Cohesion Fund contributing EUR 44 887 763 through the priority “Safeguarding the Environment and Risk Prevention” of the “Investing in Competitiveness for a Better Quality of Life” Operational Programme for the 2007-2013 programming period.

Draft date