Malta is an independent archipelago south of Sicily. A limestone island, the main island of Malta has limited freshwater supplies. It relies on a thin lens of fresh water 300 feet beneath the surface which floats on the surrounding salt water supplemented by desalination. The permanent population of 400,000 expands during the summer tourist season to to accommodate over a million tourist visits. Tourists represent the equivalent of 30,000 permanent residents. With a Mediterranean climate, summer is also the dry season, aggravating the situation.
About 40% of the groundwater utilized is in agriculture, at near zero cost, pumping from their own wells. This situation has resulted in a substantial increase in irrigated land as well as excessive use of water for cleaning. Manure, 2,500,000 kg. annually, from the large number of livestock presents a problem of nitrate pollution of the groundwater, as does fertilizer used in intensive agriculture.