Michael Briguglio: Local Councillor in Sliema, Malta.
Wednesday, June 22, 2016
Sliema sewage shocker: Ex-Drainage Director says that Tigne' skyscrapers can lead to major sewage problems
Residents and swimmers in Sliema have noticed that Sliema's sewage system is in a precarious situation, with flows in Fond Ghadir and Qui-si-sana beach. Sliema Local Council frequently alerts WSC to clean up such flows in Fond Ghadir, and Qui-si-sana beach was recently declared not fit for swimming by the Environment Health Directorate for a number of days due to a sewage overflow.
As things stand, Sliema's sewage system is facing problems. What will the impact of the proposed skyscrapers in Tigne' be? WSC did not reply to the impact study on this. But the ex-Director of the Drainage Department gave his qualified opinion to Times of Malta:
Tigné high-rise projects can lead to major sewage problems
Residents say Tigné already suffers from sewage blockages
Building a number of high-rise projects in a small area like Tigné could lead to major sewage problems if their impact is not adequately studied, according to the former director of the Drainage Department.
“Without a plan of the cumulative effects of such projects, you are shooting in the dark. On the one hand developers could get blamed for sewage problems which are not their fault. But on the other, they could be building six-star developments supported by primitive infrastructure. The result would not be good,” architect Philip Grech told the Times of Malta.
With a detailed understanding of the Sliema sewage network, Mr Grech said the greatest risk such a concentration of large developments could pose could be the creation of what is known as a point load – an excessive burden on a small section of the subterranean sewage network.
“This needs to be looked at in advance, before construction. There are mathematical models you can run based on the system and the flows expected. These could give an indication of what needs to be done,” Mr Grech said.
He was contacted yesterday after concerns were raised that the Water Services Corporation had not given its input on the impact a proposed 34-storey Townsquare tower could have on the Sliema sewage system. The corporation did not reply when asked earlier this week why no impact assessment was provided and Mr Grech said this had caught him by surprise.
“If such an assessment was not provided then it is worrying as the WSC really knows what the current system’s capacity is and if there are any problems that need addressing,” he said.
The Sliema local council and residents have meanwhile complained that the Tigné area was already suffering from sewage blockages and high-rises would likely overload the system.
Mr Grech said the last major overhaul of the Sliema sewers had been conducted back when he was responsible for the system in the early 1990s. At that time, the area was changing from one predominantly made up of two and three-storey buildings to five-floor apartment blocks. Projects earmarked for Tigné had also called for the laying of a new pipeline to handle the additional flow, he said.
Would this be enough to support the burden of all those flushes from high-rise buildings? Again, studies would give a clearer indication, Mr Grech said.
He pointed out that buildings were rarely at full occupancy, and so, while the tall buildings had the potential to add much more sewage to the system, this depended in part on the developers’ ability to attract buyers.
Drawing on his experience in the field, Mr Grech said the island’s sewage system was one of the most overlooked parts of the island’s infrastructure.
“The possible need for an upgrade does bear looking at. You could ignore the system and be fine, or you could end up with people driving to their multi-million euro apartment and being faced with overflows, blockages and the nasty sights and smells that come with that,” Mr Grech said.
Sliema residents will today be organising a protest at the Qui-si-Sana Gardens to voice their concerns of tall buildings being erected without adequate studies and plans.
Fort Cambridge hotel project not ‘validated’
The Environment Impact Statement for the Townsquare development had
not included the impact of a proposed Fort Cambridge hotel project because this had not been “validated”, a Planning Authority spokesman said.
Reacting to criticism that the Townsquare project was being assessed in isolation, the spokesman said that the authority’s regulations stipulated that only those projects that were approved for consideration could form part of studies.
The spokesman denied allegations by the Sliema local council that there would be a shortage of parking for the Townsquare project. He also defended a report conclusion that peak hour traffic on the Tigné Peninsula had decreased. This, he said, had been based on traffic counts carried out by appointed traffic consultants.
“During this week’s public meeting, the Planning Board which will include a representative of the Sliema local council will have all the facility and time needed to query the conclusions and recommendations made by both appointed consultants and the Planning Directorate prior to taking an informed decision,” the spokesman said.
Townsquare SkyScraper Report - Shocking statistics and missing data - Clickhere
Protest against the Skyscraper proposal - George Bonello Dupuis Gardens, Qui-si-Sana, Sliema, 6pm, Wednesday 22nd June 2016.- clickhere for more info Planning Authority meeting to decide on the proposal - click here for more info and to reserve a place