Photo: Wikimedia Commons
Venice has been regularly flooded by high tide, or ‘acqua alta’ for centuries. But the problem may be getting worse, a recent study suggests.The city continues to sink about 0.08 inches each year, the report in the March issue of Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems claims. This contradicts previous studies, according to Italian newspaper Il Gazzettino. What’s worse, Venice is also apparently tilting eastward.
And while some question the report’s methodology, the Italian government is not taking any chances. Its new multi-billion dollar machine, built to combat the invasive sea waters, will make its debut next year. But is it all it’s cracked up to be? We take a look …
The city stretches across numerous islands in the Venetian lagoon along the Adriatic Sea. At high tide (acqua alta), parts of the city are flooded, and global warming and groundwater pumping is causing Venice to sink.
Italy's biggest public works project was finally approved by then-Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi in 2003.
The project was named MOSE, an acronym for 'Modulo Sperimentale Elettromeccanico' and an allusion to the Old Testament story of Moses parting the Red Sea.
The largest gate will be 97 feet long, 66 feet high, and 15 feet thick. Each will weigh 250-300 tons.
The gates will rest at the bottom of the inlet. When a high tide is forecast, compressed air will be released into the hollow gates, making them rise and block the entrance of the tide.
The gates will be able to withstand a maximum high tide of 10 feet, and a rise of 24 inches in sea level.
MOSE has already cost the Italian government $7 billion, and maintenance costs will be at least $11.5 million a year.
Protests and unease over costs have led completion to be delayed by a year to 2013.
Critics say the plan will damage the environment, and the system will be be difficult to maintain. The government is accused of never considering the alternatives.
The 212 square-mile Venetian lagoon is the largest wetland in the Mediterranean. There is fear that digging for MOSE could turn the lagoon into a pond and damage its ecosystem.
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