Venice turns to floating barriers to fight floods

May 1, 2011 by Ljubomir Milasin
The works of the Modulo Sperimentale Elettromeccanico (MOSE), a project intended to protect Venice from floods. Flood-prone Venice has launched an ambitious plan to build mobile barriers at the mouth of its lagoon to protect the city from rising sea levels.

Flood-prone Venice has launched an ambitious plan to build mobile barriers at the mouth of its lagoon to protect the city from rising sea levels.

About 3,000 people are involved in the "Moses" project, which costs 5.4 billion euros ($7.9 billion), and is scheduled for completion in 2014.

"Once finished, the system will protect Venice from high of up to three metres," said architect Flavia Faccioli from the Venezia Nuova consortium, grouping some 50 companies involved in the project.

"We're on schedule so far. We have already carried out three billion euros worth of works and will be carrying out the first test next July," Faccioli told AFP.

The 78 giant box-shaped barriers will be divided into four sections at the head of the three inlets that link the lagoon with the Adriatic Sea.

They will be inserted into immense tanks on the . Should high waters threaten the city, pressured air will be pumped into the barriers, raising them up on hinges to block the tidal flow.

Once the danger has passed, the air will be expelled and the barriers would fill with water and sink back to the sea floor.

"We are building 11 crates at the same time," Enrico Pellegrini, the head engineer at one of the building sites, told reporters as they inspected the ongoing works at the Malamocco inlet.

Special cement and non-oxidizing steel have been used for the 60-metre wide girders which, at 27 metres high, are as tall as a seven-storey building.

"The biggest girders weigh 22,000 tons and will be transported, like the others, by wagons specially designed for the purpose by Norwegian company. Each can take up to 350 tons, the equivalent of a Boeing 747," he said.

It will then take up to three days for a "syncrolift" system -- usually used to help ships dock -- to transfer the tanks to the .

"It's a remarkable project, one of the most important in Italy and the world," Venice's mayor Giovanni Orsoni said.

Venice, which sank by 23 centimetres (nine inches) in the last century, is hoping that the "Moses" project will help it preserve its buildings and rid its majestic squares of flood waters once and for all.

Explore further: Nearly half of Venice underwater

Related Stories

Nearly half of Venice underwater

November 30, 2009

Much of the historic Italian city of Venice, including St. Mark's Square, was underwater Monday following a meteorological depression combined with natural tide waters, officials said.

Dutch build more dunes against rising seas

November 20, 2009

On the beach at Monster, bulldozers painstakingly turn sand dredged from the bottom of the North Sea bed into dunes in an ambitious effort to safeguard the Netherlands from flooding.

World learns from Dutch to keep head above water

March 21, 2011

Dubai's Palm Island, New Orleans' upgraded dykes and Australia's water recycling plants all have one thing in common: they benefited from Dutch know-how gained in the country's age-old quest for dry feet.

New wave of planning for coastal zones

November 24, 2010

Among the traits they share in common -- proximity to the coast, popularity among tourists, renowned, painterly light -- Venice, Italy, and San Diego also share one all-too-disturbing similarity: They are both in considerable ...

Extreme tides flood Marshalls capital

February 21, 2011

Extreme high tides have flooded parts of the low-lying Marshall Islands capital Majuro with a warning Sunday of worse to come because of rising sea levels.

Dutch help California's Bay Area plan for sea level rise

September 22, 2009

How to plan for sea level rise, a still-abstract concept for many Californians, drew serious consideration from engineers, designers and urban planners from Holland and the U.S. at a symposium held on Monday.

Recommended for you

Ocean acidification may reduce sea scallop fisheries

September 21, 2018

Each year, fishermen harvest more than $500 million worth of Atlantic sea scallops from the waters off the east coast of the United States. A new model created by scientists at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI), ...


Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

not rated yet May 01, 2011
Money well spent Italy, maybe other NATO countries ( including Italy ) should fund projects like this one instead of wasting money on wars to drive poor countries back to the stone age as was done in Iraq and Afghanistan and is being done in Libya so that we can steal their resources with total impunity.
1 / 5 (1) May 02, 2011
Venice, which sank by 23 centimetres (nine inches) in the last century

The following is a quote from a recent model study:

"This model projects a maximum steric sea level rise of 25 cm. The mean steric sea level rise value predicted is around 13 cm with lower values in the eastern Mediterranean and higher values at the western Mediterranean. Coastal sea level rise values are found to be smaller"


The real problem in Venice is that the city is sinking. Sea level in Venice will not rise noticably in the next 100 years. The city has been sinking for hundreds of years. Other cities on the Med, built at the same time, are fine.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.