On March 28th, the Energy and Water Agency, in collaboration with the University of Malta and the Water Services Corporation, held a seminar to present the results of three water-related projects funded under EWA’s Research and Innovation scheme. The Energy and Water Agency launched this scheme in 2020 and has since supported 11 projects. Wetsoil, SIGMA, and Purilma were the projects presented during the seminar.
Ms. Joanna Incorvaja, an advisor on water policy at the Ministry for Environment, Energy, and Enterprise, opened the seminar by highlighting the importance of water in achieving sustainability. She remarked that the goal of Research and Innovation is to bring about positive change in productivity and resource management. She also highlighted the meaningful impact that the three water projects being presented have in Malta’s ambition to become more sustainable.
Mr. Manuel Sapiano, CEO of the Energy and Water Agency, emphasized the need for Research and Innovation to move beyond research and start developing concepts and achieving more tangible results that help address policy. Professor Joseph Cacciottolo, Pro-Rector for Academic Affairs at the University of Malta, stressed the importance of collaboration, especially for such projects. Mr. Martin Polidano, on behalf of Water Services Corporation, closed the opening of the seminar by stating that the focus was on how such projects are essential for the constant development and progress of water processes across the board.
Mr. Luke Farrugia, on behalf of EWA, gave a technical presentation on the work the Energy and Water Agency is doing in the fields of research and innovation. He spoke about the milestones reached and the success of the previous two R&I calls. He also mentioned that they are currently working on launching the new R&I call for the upcoming months.
The Energy and Water Agency will be contributing to several projects that boost R&I activities, such as Mediterranean Islands Cleantech Innovation Ecosystems (MICIE), which aims to boost domestic R&I activities in Malta and Cyprus while also developing an action plan to achieve these goals. The importance of R&I projects straying away from highly exercised sectors and focusing on problematic areas was also emphasized to have a more impactful R&I sector.
The researchers who worked on the funded projects gave technical presentations on the projects’ findings. Professor Lourdes Farrugia, Project Coordinator for Wetsoil, spoke about the ease of use of the developed concept. With the use of multi-length bi-filar probes, they use electromagnetic fields to pick up responses from content that is encapsulated in water. Professor Farrugia added that through ‘WetSoil’, farmers can develop an irrigation schedule based on scientific knowledge, as it quantifies soil water content and thus indicates when and how much irrigation water is required.
Dr. Matthew Agius, on behalf of SIGMA (Seismic Imaging of Groundwater for Maltese Aquifers), spoke about this innovative project that uses a novel approach to imaging any changes in the quantitative status of aquifers across Malta using seismic noise. Dr. Agius explained that the project made use of signal processing techniques, mainly cross- and autocorrelations of ambient seismic noise data between pairs of stations, to extract information about the subsurface. Such an approach and setup can be very useful for groundwater management.
Ms. Jeanice Mallia, on behalf of project Purilma, led by the Water Services Corporation and the University of Malta as a project partner, spoke about the different techniques and technologies to disinfect tap water, by changing the taste and different chlorine levels. Many benefits arise from such techniques, such as less plastic waste being produced. The results from various techniques were then tried and tested in open sessions. Ms. Mallia added that the most favorable samples would continue being developed.
After all the presentations, a networking session was held, during which three assigned booths were set up to provide attendees with further demonstrations of the project results.