The Malta Independent 4 December 2021, Saturday

Valletta 18 official swim in untested sea-water ‘sends wrong message’

Wednesday, 8 June 2016, 09:20 Last update: about 6 years ago

The swim across Grand Harbour held by Valletta 18 on Tuesday as part of celebrations for Valletta’s 450th anniversary has sent the wrong message to bathers as the activity was held in an industrial port where sea-water is not tested by health authorities, sources told The Malta Independent.

The swim from Vittoriosa to Valletta was held on Tuesday evening, and attracted a sizeable number of participants who had the opportunity to cross the busy harbour which is home to large cruise-ships and tens of other vessels.

But sources who contacted The Malta Independent said that the organisers, Valletta 18, should not have organised such an activity in a port where bathing is not recommended.

In fact, the whole of Grand Harbour is not among the 87 places around Malta where bathing is permitted, so much so that no tests are carried out to check the quality of the sea-water. Each week, the Environmental Health Directorate issues a water quality report on these 87 beaches after taking water samples.

Grand Harbour is a no-go area for swimmers, and it is taken “for granted” that it is so by the simple fact that no water quality checks are made. “If Grand Harbour was fit for swimming, then regular tests would be carried out as is done in all the other 87 places where bathing is allowed,” the sources said. “That no such tests are made is a clear indication that swimming is not recommended there.”

But by sanctioning an official event organised by a government entity and giving it so much promotion has sent the wrong signals, the sources argued. “People will think that if V18 could do it, then there is no problem with swimming in the harbour. The problem is that given the amount of vessel traffic in the harbour it is very unlikely that the waters there are clean enough for swimming to be recommended.”

Chemicals and fuel inevitably seep into the sea water in Grand Harbour, and this could be harmful to people’s health. In fact, when swimming is required for work purposes, diving-suits are a must to avoid the water touching skin directly.

Last Tuesday, all the swimmers who took part in the V18 event were not wearing diving-suits.

Latest report on water quality - Grand Harbour is not mentioned

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