BACK

The late medieval water galleries in Malta (11th to 16th century AD)

Many of the galleries are still functioning today. Some galleries do show sign of perched aquifer depletion, while others have completely dried up. Illegal water extraction today is reported to be occurring not from within the perched aquifer gallery systems, but through bore holes and others wells which tap the same aquifer source.

Though the systems are well known and exploited by farming communities, scholarly interest in these systems and their cultural value is relatively recent. A better understanding of the gallery systems, and their operation can help address better management of this important water resource today.

Water harvesting in Malta is an important consideration, when considering the size of the Island State and lack of resources. Today Malta as an Island State relies on groundwater as a water resource, and on water obtained through reverse osmosis, which is energy intensive as a process. Water security is therefore an important consideration. In 2003-2004, Reserve Osmosis desalination amounted to 55% of public water supply in Malta.    

Currently a faced problem with perched aquifer water is nitrate contamination that makes it unsuitable for human consumption. At present it is only being used as a second class water source.