Will the Mose system save Venice from sinking?
Update - November 22, 2006 - The MOSE project received its final approval by the "comitatone", the special committee for the safeguard of Venice which includes the Italian premier Prodi, the mayor of Venice Cacciari and the president of Veneto region Galan. MOSE's barriers have been defined "the only possible solution to defend Venice".
Update - July 15, 2007 - The Venetian deputy Ceasare cmpa (Forza Italia) is urging the parliamet to respond about the "missing" 550 millions euro which had been bugdeted for the MOSE. This money, Campa said, has been misteriously "moved" to finance other projects, among which the Rome underground. If the 2008 Financial act confirms this decision, Venice will risk to spend even more money than planned, as the yard cannot be stopped and new works will be needed to preserve the present state-of-the-art.
Update - November 11, 2006 - The MOSE seems to be winning, at last: the flood barrier system, which uses adjustable metal plates that are raised from the sea floor to prevent water from entering the Venice lagoon when high tides are forecast, was approved by a government commission. Work and testing started in 2003 -- with several stops due mainly to protests -- and at least 3.5 billion euros will be spent for its completion, scheduled for 2012. The MOSE (Modulo Sperimentale Elettromeccanico or Electromechanical Experimental Module) was choosen after 30 years of debate, but it never won the hearts and minds of Venetians. The protests against the costly MOSE seemed never-ending: considered too expensive, only moderately effective, and having a significant impact on the lagoon ecosystem, it is still heavily opposed by Italian environmentalists and many Venetians.
Alternatives were proposed and, recently, rejected by Italian minister Antonio Di Pietro, who claims that alternative projects are not adequate and that minimal harm has occurred during years of tests. So the construction of the barriers will go on as planned, but the Italian Green party is still against the project, saying that the proposed alternatives were not given enough consideration. A definitive approval by the Italian government is expected any day.
The sinking of Venice as a result of high tides is inevitable in the next 50 to 100 years because of the rise of the Adriatic Sea level due to global warming, the extraction of methane gas in the Venetian lagoon, and the movements of the African geological plate pushing under the European plate.
archive april 2003 -
One hour to write the future of Venice. April 4th 2003 may be a historical date: the Mose (this is the name of the system against high tide born in the Eighties) has been officially approved by the Italian Government, the Veneto Region and the Municipality of Venice. One hour meeting in Rome, and the special committee (called "comitatone") has decided: on April 29th the yard will open.
The Italian Government accepted the eleven conditions of the Town Council of Venice: "We do not need only the Mose but also other additional solutions like a cliff and an artificial basin in the area of Malamocco". The Green Party would like to start from these other solutions, whose impact over the natural environment should be very little, but the Mose testing is highest priority.
What is Mose?
The Mose is a complex system made of 79 steel dams 30 meters high and 20 long. These dams will be placed (by thousands steel stakes) in the 3 mouths - by Lido island - that separate the Adriatic Sea from the lagoon. The dams close when there are tides that are higher than 110 cms.
The system is very expensive: more than 5 billion Euro for building it. And about 9 million Euro for the yearly routine maintenance. It will take about 10 years to complete. In 2013 Venice should be safe.
archive: november 2002 - The never-ending story of the main project against the Venetian high tides, the "Mose", maybe now really over. The special committee of the Italian Government called "Comitatone" has in fact decided to complete the project Mose (with moving dams) born 20 years ago, but no one knows when the big work will be delivered to Venice. And someone is suspicious. But the Governor of Veneto Region Giancarlo Galan is the most confident about this happy end and said: "The Mose will be ready in 8 years". Time will show.
An important step has been made, for sure. The comitatone decided that in the future there will be no more tankers in the Venice lagoon: 700 billion Lire are set to build an artificial island 10 kms from the coast, where the tankers will be able to dock.
And the environmental associations, what did they say? "With the realization of the Mose project we will squander a lot of money in a very old project; instead we must spend money for curing the lagoon", is the Green Party opinion. "The Mose is a bet that will not solve the problems of Venice", WWF Italy declared.