A rehabilitation project at Wied il-Għasel, in the limits of Mosta and Naxxar, commenced in June in a €3.3 million investment, €2 million of which are being invested by the Ministry for Tourism and Consumer Protection, with the rest being financed from Cohesion Funds. This project is the second-largest valley in Malta is expected to be completed by the end of next year and is being implemented by Parks Malta, an entity under the Ministry for Tourism and Consumer Protection.
Minister for Tourism and Consumer Protection Julia Farrugia Portelli visited the valley where works are currently underway together with Minister for Transport, Infrastructure and Capital Projects Ian Borg and Parliamentary Secretary for European Funds Stefan Zrinzo Azzopardi.
The first phase of the project involved the restoration of existing water dams along with the removal of 45,000 cubic metres of material that had accumulated over the years. At the same time, an additional six water dams were built to absorb water into the water table and to reduce the possibility of flooding into agricultural zones in Burmarrad.
Works are also ongoing to restore the walls on the edge of the valley, as well as the restoration of rubble walls and the removal of invasive trees and species. This shall create space enough for more than 800 indigenous trees and just under 3,000 shrubs. This will be accompanied by the installation of an irrigation system.
“Notwithstanding that Malta is small, our countryside and valleys have a lot to offer. We want to ensure that these types of places are enjoyed by Maltese and Gozitan families. To this end, in every valley including Wied il-Għasel, we are creating spaces and facilities for picnics, whilst creating benches along the trail. In the fast-paced world that we live in, it is essential that families find a quiet spot in a secure and beautiful environment. Our valleys can serve this purpose and we remain committed to providing these types of facilities. The works done in Wied il-Għasel are not isolated. Through Parks Malta, we are giving a new look to numerous valleys. The works done in Wied Għomor in Swieqi and San Ġwann, Wied Garnaw in Santa Luċija, Wied il-Fiddien in Rabat and Wied ir-Rum in Ħad-Dingli are a testament to this fact. Our aim is to expand this to all valleys in Malta and Gozo,” explained Minister Farrugia Portelli.
Minister for Transport, Infrastructure and Capital Projects Ian Borg said that, “Valleys are an important part of the Maltese landscape, not only because they provide a green lung in the heart of our localities, but also because they have an important function in the storage and maintenance of rainwater. Therefore, I am proud and happy that the Public Works Department is implementing the widening of the valley, while improving and embellishing the valley infrastructure in this important project, which will not only reduce water waste but will also create better access for farmers in the area and recreational facilities in the countryside, such as footpaths and picnic areas. At the end of the day, this project will appropriately honour Wied il-Għasel. We must work together to conserve our valleys and to see that their infrastructure is still adequate for the climate and landscape needs of Malta.”
Parliamentary Secretary for European Funds Stefan Zrinzo Azzopardi said that projects like these form part of the European Union strategy which prioritises sustainable development. He stated that this goes hand in hand with the government’s vision, which is to continue investing in more environmental sustainability and open spaces. Dr Zrinzo Azzopardi continued by saying that this investment with European funds focuses on our ecology since the regeneration of Wied il-Għasel meets important objectives which do not solely rest at its aesthetics but also include the preservation of water. He concluded by saying that, “this project ensures we preserve one of the most important resources for our country – the water resource.”
Present for the press conference were Alex Borg Galea, Chief Officer of the Valley Management Unit of Parks Malta, and Director Ivan Farrugia, who gave a detailed presentation of the works done. Present also was the Mayor of Mosta Romilda B. Zarb and other local council members.