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Eight bowser licenses cancelled by Environmental Health

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Eight bowser licenses cancelled by Environmental HealthThe EU LIFE+ Investing in Water Project today revealed that eight licenses for bowser suppliers of 1st class (potable) water have been revoked by the Environmental Health Directorate (1), as the groundwater extracted by suppliers no longer meets the standards required for potable water (2).

“These eight licenses were cancelled by the end of 2011 due to excessive nitrates in the groundwater they supplied to their customers. The move leaves only five licensed bowser suppliers of safe 1st class water remaining to date,” EU LIFE+ Investing in Water Project said.

“Water audits carried out by the EU LIFE+ Investing in Water Project amongst businesses and hotels over the past few weeks confirm that bowser-supplied 1st class water is an important resource for many commercial enterprises. This groundwater is freely extracted by bowser suppliers and is therefore normally cheaper than potable water supplied by the Water Services Corporation (WSC).”

Enterprises have however, explained that 1st class bowser water has over the past few months become more difficult and expensive to source.

MEPA’s latest The Environment Report lists nitrate levels in 90% of Malta’s groundwater bodies at above acceptable limits of 50 mg/l (3).

EU LIFE+ Investing in Water Project’s Water Expert Marco Cremona, said, “The problem with groundwater is not limited to pollution, as we are also consuming more than we sustainably can. While we recommend that businesses only purchase groundwater from licensed suppliers, through the EU LIFE+ Investing in Water Project we are also providing information and assistance to businesses and hotels on the importance of water conservation and measures to reduce their consumption.”

Project Manager Geoffrey Saliba drew attention to the ongoing water audits carried out by the Project team, aimed at identifying water saving solutions for businesses and hotels. “Following the onsite water audits we provide technical assistance and information on how to better manage and reduce water consumption. The severity of water scarcity in Malta leaves no room for wasteful water consumption, from both an environmental and financial point of view.”

The Project leaders the Malta Business Bureau (MBB), and Project partners The Malta Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise and Industry (The Malta Chamber), and Malta Hotels and Restaurants Association (MHRA) said that they “urge their members to sign up for water audits. Through the audits the enterprises will be helped to identify cost effective measures that would reduce their water consumption, thus also contributing to tackling Malta’s freshwater scarcity.”

The EU LIFE+ Investing in Water Project receives 50% co-financing under the European Community’s LIFE funding programme, with the Office of the Prime Minister as the main co-financier, further co-financing and sponsorship from Easydry Malta, APS Bank, Island Hotels Group, and MSV LIFE.


1) The below list provides details of registered suppliers of water, including the cancelled bowser licenses, dates letters of cancellation were issued, and the level of nitrates present in the water which led to the license cancellations:

2) The groundwater extracted by the previously licensed operators reached 88 mg/l. Nitrates above the World Health Organization’s (WHO) limit of 50 mg per litre is potentially cancerous if consumed, and this is therefore the legal maximum throughout the EU for safe drinking water. Untreated groundwater can also be a source of Legionnaires Disease which may be contracted from showers.

3) A summary of the State of the Environment Report indicators may be viewed here:

Photos: Bowser – Archive photo by Marco Cremona.

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