Italy's Moses project divides the water to save Venice
By Hanns-Jochen Kaffsack Sep 19, 2011, 2:06 GMT
Rome/Venice - Moses is said to have divided the Red Sea, and now a project named after the Hebrew prophet aims at protecting the Venetian Lagoon from flooding in north-eastern Italy.
After much debate, the Mose project is moving forward and could protect Venice from continually re-occurring and ever-increasing water masses during 'Acqua alta' - or high waters - from 2015 onwards.
Mobile gates at three inlets to the lagoon will work to keep dry the picturesque Old Town of Venice, including Saint Mark's Square.
But there are also bizarre plans to make the channels and gondolas of the city flood-proof once and for all.
Global warming and the subsequently rising sea levels are regarded as the main reasons why Venice is so often struck by flood waters.
'When Mose begins operations, flooding will be a thing of the past,' says Giovanni Mazzacurati, president of the New Venice Consortium, of the 5.5-billion-euro (7.7-billion-dollar) project.
The first plans for the Modulo Sperimentale Elettromeccanico or Experimental Electromechnical Module (MOSE) were being discussed about a quarter of a century ago, when the price was just a fraction of what it is today.
By now, about two-thirds of the work is completed and the consortium is singing its praises.
'Mose will protect the city from tides up to three meters high, and can therefore be effective even if the sea level increases significantly within the next 100 years,' Mazzacurati said.
The most recent estimates have the sea level rising by up to 60 centimetres in that time.
When a tide higher than 110 centimeters is forecast, the gates at the three lagoon inlets of Chioggia, Malamocco and Lido will rise out of the water, entirely isolating the lagoon from the Adriatic Sea.
The builders call Mose 'one of the most important hydraulic engineering projects ever achieved.' They also assume that it will become one of the new Venetian tourist attractions. The attraction will include an artificial island that will stand at the Lido mouth of the lagoon in order to shorten the length of the rows of anti-flood barriers.
What happens, however, when all that is not enough? Belgian-Danish architect Julien de Smedt has a spectacular plan up his sleeve.
He has come up with a star-formed ring of skyscrapers rising above the lagoon waters and serving as a protection, the magazine of daily La Repubblica reports
The architect assumes that the waters around Venice will rise much more than just 60 centimeters in 100 years.
Environmentalists would undoubtedly be up in arms against such a drastic intervention, after fighting hard against the Mose barriers.
But those who have seen water get into their business, apartment or basement at least six or seven times a year would rather set their money on the Mose project.
Help could also come from a high-tech instrument with the pharaonic-sounding name Ramses. A satellite system and laser scanning would make it possible to determine with high precision how high the forecast flooding will be at every square and every alley of Venice.
This would help every Venetian and every tourist to know if they needs boots, where they cannot walk any more, and where raised wooden walkways are needed. At least until Mose divides the water for Venice.
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