• AMPlus Issue7

Venice tests a new flood barrier system

Niharika V Murthy

18th October 2020

After decades of wait, Venice constructively installed the flood barrier systems to protect the city from further catastrophic disasters caused by floods. The high tide which reached the level of four feet has helped all 78 floodgates barricading three inlets to the Venetian lagoon pass its first major test on October 3, 2020. The system of 78 mobile floodgates was tested in the Venice lagoon in North-Eastern Italy for the first time on July 10, 2020, as reported by the BBC News. The sea walls were mainly devised to shield Venice from ‘acqua alta’ or tide peaks.

Venetian 78 floodgates barricades succeed its first major test (Source: Euronews)

St Mark’s Square, a popular tourist spot, usually floods at three feet in all the ‘peak-tide’ time, but due to the upraised floodgates, the streets mostly remained dry excluding the presence of a very few puddles, reported CNN. This new flood barrier also labelled as ‘MOSE’ comprises 78 barriers submerged in the point where Adriatic Sea meets the Venetian lagoon, as reported by CNN. “There wasn’t even a puddle in St. Mark’s Square,” said Alvise Papa, the director of the Venice department who monitors high tides. He also added that half of the city streets would have been under water if the flood barriers were not elevated, reported New York Times.

Luigi Brugnaro, Venice’s newly re-elected mayor tweeted “Everything is dry here. Pride and joy,” happily. These flood barriers were subjected to several tests over the past summer, but did not get a possibility to face menacing conditions than those on October 3, 2020. The flood barrier systems are not completely functional yet and have to still undergo infrastructural developments to have higher potential in stopping the disastrous floods, said The New York Times.

The workers are still to be trained effectively to use this technology efficiently which proves that the operation carried on Oct 3, 2020 was technically just a compact test. Alberto Scotti, the engineer who designed the system said “But it’s a test that had an objective, to guarantee the safety of the city, and it did”, as reported by The New York Times.

The development of systems has time till 2021 to show its potency and be fully operational. The flood barriers are expected to be activated as and when the tide reaches 3 ½ feet high. Project MOSE which was expected to launch its development in 1984 jumped over several stumbling blocks like cost overruns, opposition from many environmental and conventional groups and corruption to achieve this milestone which was delayed for decades, reported The New York Times. This successful growth of flood barrier systems has eased the life of Venetians who had to struggle to get through 53 years of the city's worst floods.

(Sources: New York Times, BBC,Eco watch, Euro News)

Edited by: Keyuri

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