An integrated approach to flood relief

The environmental, economic and public health impacts that floods are having on Malta are becoming increasingly significant and the current infrastructure for handling storm water, is insufficient for dealing with the problem.

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Projects such as this are helping the EU to become a smart, sustainable and inclusive economy by 2020, as set out in the EU 2020 growth strategy. The EU is facing some tough challenges, including an ageing population, an insufficiently qualified workforce, the need for greater innovation, striking a balance between economic growth and environmental degradation, and ensuring secure, clean energy supplies. Regional policy projects across the EU are playing an active role in dealing with these and many other challenges, by undertaking projects designed to generate employment, raise educational achievement, develop renewable energy sources, boost productivity and give all citizens access to opportunities. The projects and the regions play a pivotal role in this, as they generate real results that contribute to achieving the strategy’s key goals.

Once completed in 2015, the project will increase the number of people protected by the storm water from 5 000 to 50 000.

Costly floods

Floods cost money and sometimes lives. The September 2003 floods in Malta are estimated to have resulted in €30 million worth of damage to residents, the business community, infrastructure, water and electricity networks, and the sewage system. The National Flood Relief Project (NFRP) therefore aims to develop an integrated approach to storm water and valley management along with mitigating the increasingly adverse effects of climate change on urban areas that are particularly susceptible to flash floods.

Holding back the water

The project involves constructing a network of underground tunnels, canals and bridges which will be capable of draining flood water into the sea. These excavations will involve lined tunnels equipped with access ramps. The four different catchments affected are: Birkirkara-Msida; Gzira; Qormi-Marsa; and Marsascala. The efforts also include landscaping works which will be carried out in the ditch below the entrance to Valletta together with some changes to the City Gate design.

One of the most strategic and important phases of the project is the construction of a storm water tunnel together with infrastructure services between Attard and the Ta’ Xbiex Marina. All the rain water run-off can be directed and managed to flow out from one concentrated area, near the Ta’ Xbiex Marina, into Marsamxett Port. The 11 km underground tunnel will have six main shafts that are strategically located near the main tunnel to serve as entrance and exit points during both the construction and operation of this project. A total of 72 grates will also be installed.

Channelling water in the right direction

The project will see 10 000 cubic metres of water retained in the Gzira reservoir along with a potential 600 000 cubic metres in the form of residual water in the tunnels, if a system of pumping, collecting and treatment is decided on in the future. Flows that cross boundaries between localities will also be channelled and could eventually be used for irrigation purposes.

Draft date