Venice, Italy tests $7 billion flood barriers

venice floods photo

With people around the world facing the threat of rising sea levels due to climate change, many watched with interest this weekend as Venice, Italy's ambitious flood-protection project, known as The Moses Project, underwent its first test on Saturday.

Agence France-Presse reports that it was a success:

"This is a very important and emotional moment," Venice Mayor Giorgio Orsoni told AFP.

"This will change the view one may have about the city and its lagoon, because don't forget, it is a whole, the city and the lagoon are one."

Orsoni added that Venice was "not an amusement park, it is a living city.. and this is a demonstration".
The locks will be activated when the water is 1.10 metres (3.6 feet) above normal levels, said Hermes Redi, Venezia Nuova's director general.

"Therefore, these locks will not defend Venice from all 'acqua alta' (high water) events, they will protect Venice from any exceptional 'acqua alta' events, that is up to a maximum of seven times a year."

Here's a video showing how the system operates:

So far, only four of the 78 gates have been installed.

The BBC reports that Italy's economic crisis has slowed construction progress:

Construction on the barriers began 10 years ago but has been hampered by delays in funding due to Italy's economic crisis.

The Moses project has already cost more than $7bn (£5bn) and is not expected to be completed for another two years.

Once finished, the floodgates will extend more than a mile, blocking the three inlets to the lagoon.

A government minister has promised funds to complete the scheme on time in 2016.

But the head of the construction consortium said they would need $800m immediately, otherwise the jobs of some 4,000 construction workers would be at risk.

Some Venetians argue the project is a waste of money and there is no guarantee it will work, our correspondent says.

A flood-protection system like this won't be a possible solution to rising sea level everywhere, but it is one of many options coastal communities may consider. New York City, for example, announced their own flood protection plans this summer. As we've covered a number of times, a wiser strategy is to be investing in ways to reduce climate change now and increase the resiliency of coastal areas and communities, rather than waiting for what may prove to be time- and cost-prohibitive solutions farther in the future.

Tags: Global Climate Change | Global Warming Effects | Global Warming Solutions | Italy

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