Malta may be an island surrounded by the beautiful azure Mediterranean sea, but water is definitely a problem – at least, potable water.
Malta is famous for having no resources other than the island’s inhabitants, and clean, drinkable water is another one of many things that are hard to come by on the archipelago.
However, many visitors to the island – and, let’s be honest, quite a few Maltese people – often wonder if tap water in Malta is OK to drink. And the answer is less obvious than it seems.
A Facebook post by an expat living in Malta
How is Maltese tap water made?
Since Malta has no rivers, lakes or reservoirs, Maltese has to get its water from its surroundings.
Malta’s tap water is desalinated sea water – water that has been through the process of reverse osmosis. Malta has three reverse osmosis plants – one in Ċirkewwa, one in Pembroke, and one in Għar Lapsi.
These plants process seawater that is extracted from deep shore wells sunk in Coralline Limestone. By the end of the process, all silt, organic material and saltwater is removed.
The potable water produced is disinfected by chlorine addition and remineralised by the addition of lime. The final stage in the process is the pumping of the product into the distribution network.
Cirkewwa Reverse Osmosis Plant
Can I drink it?
You can drink it – it is perfectly safe to consume. However, it won’t taste nice – though all salt has been removed, it still has a weird, slightly metallic aftertaste.
But you will not get ill – even though there is a common perception that drinking tap water for a long time may lead to increased chances of developing kidney stones.
Many people use boiled tap water for their morning coffee or tea, or to boil pasta. Some people have household reverse osmosis systems, that doubly purifies the tap water coming through their taps.
And other families just buy a household purifier pitcher and put tap water in there for a low cost fix that removes both the taste (mostly) as well as any extra chance for kidney stones.
What should you to do be safe?
Most people who live in Malta rely on a mixture of large six-packs of bottled water, or delivery of even larger water bottles to their houses. Many also go between bottled water and their in-house water purifier pitcher.
The problem with bottled water is that, obviously, it is not the most environmentally friendly way to go, so if you are relying on plastic bottled water, make sure your recycling game is on point.
It would be best to avoid drinking Maltese tap water, especially long term. But if it is the middle of the night in summer and you are dying for a drink of water, don’t even worry about gulping in that tasty, desalinated Mediterranean sea water.