You Might Think These People Are Crazy For Swimming In Venice's Flooded Streets Once You See How Their Sewer System Works

Flooding in Venice, tourists swimming

Photo: AP Photo/Luigi Costantini

Torrential rains and unusually high tide has caused widespread flooding in Venice, Italy, leaving 75 per cent of the city under water this week. Although high tide, known as Acqua Alta, is common during this time of year, Sunday’s water levels reached 5 feet, the sixth highest since records began in 1872. 

See how Venice’s old sewer system works > 
Many Venetians and tourists took the opportunity to throw on bathing suits and enjoy a swim in the city’s flooded streets and squares — though we’re not sure how good of an idea this is. 

The city does not have a complete modern sewage system, meaning its canals are also its sewer system. This poses some obvious health and sanitation concerns.  

An Italian hotelier, whose hotel entrance was flooded, described the health risks to the Sydney Morning Herald. He said: “this is not clean water — you need to mop with disinfectant twice after it goes down.”

A video called Venice Backstage describes how the floating city works, including its old sewer system. We’ve highlighted the main points, but recommend checking out the full documentary to learn more about the city’s canals, buildings and history.  

High water, called acqua alta, spills water from Venice's canals onto the streets.

Although some residents and tourists are making the best of the rising waters, it should pose basic health concerns.

That's because some parts of Venice still rely on the historical sewer system.

Wastewater from houses and buildings travel down the house.

The waste reaches the sewer system underground.

The sewage is released into masonry tunnels.

The sewage collects in these tunnels and flows into the canals.

Household waste is washed out into the ocean twice a day with the tides, exchanging old water with new water.

There is a modern system that uses septic tanks to treat water before draining into the canals. The International Water Association says there are more than 6,000 septic tanks in Venice, but many people still rely on the old sewage system.

Check out a different kind of wild.

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