Marco Cremona has been working as a water treatment engineer since 1992. He is an expert on environmental technologies and was recently a finalist on the Good Entrepreneur.
Mention utility tariffs to most people these days and they shudder. The gradual removal of subsidies and rising oil prices means that you are likely to be paying more for your consumption of water and electricity in the future. On January 1st 2010, new tariffs will kick in.
There’s a lot of confusion on the actual tariffs. So, to get an idea as things stand, click here for the water tariffs and here for the electricity tariffs. If these lists are not clear enough, you can try the bill calculator here or even download a piece of software that claims to work out your bill for you from here.
Here are some personal observations about water and electricity consumption:
- The tariffs differentiate between residential and non-residential tariffs. As things stand, a hotel will pay €1.40 per cubic metre for consumption over 40,000 cubic metres, compared with a domestic client who pays €5.50 for consumption of over 33 cubic metres per person per year.
- Two people consuming an average amount of 180 litres per day, and living in one residence, pay 60 euros as water service charge and 80 euros as a consumption charge per annum. 45% of the bill is a standing charge which one has to pay even if the consumption is nil. This, to me, seems totally disproportionate. The water tariff should penalise consumption and reward water conservation. However, with the current tariff structure there is no incentive to save water.
- I’d estimate that two people living in a domestic residence will consume around 10 units of electricity a day. Add an air-conditioner, and you consume an additional 5 -7 units a day.
- The price of water has doubled in recent years for the domestic consumer. Malta’s tariffs for water are linked to the price of electricity. This is because 55% of town water comes from reverse osmosis, with the remaining 45% from aquifers. To transport water, you also need electricity to pump the water from the point of production to the point of use. Around 30% of the water is lost in transit.
- Malta’s tap water is perfectly safe for drinking – it’s just not all that great on the taste buds. Conversely, bottled water may cost €0.50 per litre. That’s about 400 times the price of tap water.
- You’d be surprised how much water goes into the production of other goods. 2,400 litres of water goes into the production of a McDonalds hamburger. 100 litres of water for a cup of coffee. 13,500 litres of water for 1 kg of beef. Around 790 litres for 1 litre of water fit to drink. In the case of Malta, 350m cubic metres of water is imported for products produced elsewhere. We consume 50m cubic metres of water per year. This means that we import six times the amount of virtual water as we actually use.
- Malta is still not using its natural resources properly. We are over-extracting our aquifiers by around 50 per cent over their sustainable levels. We need to urgently address the situation. We risk losing the free supply of 23 million of cubic metres of water a year in fifteen to twenty years’ time. That’s the equivalent of 126,000 water roof-tanks a day.
Photo: Gege Gatt