Severe storms are rare in Malta as its Mediterranean climate give the islands relatively good weather throughout the year.

  • 12 localities across Malta

    Location

    12 localities across Malta

  • European Regional and Development Funds

    Fund

    European Regional and Development Funds

  • Mitigation and Adaptation to Climate Change

    Programme

    Mitigation and Adaptation to Climate Change

  • €51,664,271

    Cost of Project

    €51,664,271

  • €42,900,000

    Total EU Allocation

    €42,900,000

However, as the saying says, when it rains, it pours, and large volumes of precipitation in a few minutes normally causes havoc in areas close to valleys, from where the storm water usually passes to reach the sea and its outflow.

To mitigate this problem, many projects have been implemented over the years, usually in small and uncoordinated phases. The result was that, despite the millions spent, results were unsatisfactory. In 2010, through the intervention of millions of EU funds, Malta embarked on a national project aimed at finding a solution to the rare but constant annual problem on a long-term basis.

Based on a Storm Water Master Plan, prepared following years of research, it was decided that a nationwide Flood Relief Project was to be launched, with a major infrastructural programme consisting of the building of kilometres of underground tunnels, canals and bridges in valleys and rural areas, and better drainage infrastructure for the worst hit areas, making them capable of handling storm water in the worst of scenarios.

Taking a full five years to complete, the project consisted of five main phases. The largest of the project’s stages was the building of an 11 kilometre underground tunnel, from Birkirkara to Ta’ Xbiex, an area which was regularly flooded after heavy downpours.

The tunnels, some 7 metres wide, covered all the route which normally is taken by the storm water to its outflow in the sea at Ta’ Xbiex.

Along the route, culverts and other water gathering systems were also constructed, to try to save and re-use some of the water gathered after a sudden outpour. The project, alas on an experimental basis, also tested the possibility of re-directing some of the storm water back into the aquifer.

Other important junctures of the project consisted of similar infrastructure built along other flood-prone areas of the island, including the Rabat-Zebbug route, a stretch between Qormi and Marsa, and areas in Żabbar and Marsascala which are the worst hit areas in the south of the island. In total some 20 kilometres of underground tunnels to take the rainwater were dug.

The project addressed also the institutional problems associated with floods, including the introduction of systems to strengthen planning, management, and maintenance responsibilities into an identifiable and more formal organisation.

Through the support of EU Cohesion funds, the project has contributed substantially to alleviate the problem, which caused a complete stop to the island on every occasion it happened.

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