Venice’s long-delayed flood barrier saved the city from high tides for the second time.
The 78 mobile barriers of the Mose project were activated early Thursday morning after forecasts that the tide would reach up to 135 cm. Without the barrier, a tide at this level would have flooded half of the city, the popular tourist attraction of St. Mark’s Square usually paying the price.
By mid-morning, strong winds and rain had pushed the water level up to 140cm in some areas of the lagoon, but in Venice the level was stable between 50 and 60cm.
“The city is dry,” the mayor of Venice, Luigi Brugnaro, wrote on Twitter. “All the doors are working. The canals will reopen around 3:30 p.m. “
Tides of up to 130cm were also forecast for Friday morning.
The huge yellow sluice gates, which rise to separate the Venetian lagoon from the sea, also managed to seal off the town in its first real-time test in early October during high tide, or high tide, increased to 120cm.
The Mose dams were designed in 1984 and were due to go into service in 2011, but progress has been marred by a corruption scandal and cost overruns.
The Italian government has come under pressure to finally complete the 6 billion euro project, designed to protect Venice from tides up to 3 meters, after the city suffered its worst flooding since 1966 in November last year . The flood killed two people and caused damage estimated at € 1 billion to monuments, businesses and homes.
Venetians have mixed feelings about the project, with some seeing it as essential to protect the city and others claiming it damaged the fragile lagoon. Opponents of the project argue that the work done so far has exacerbated the flooding.
As part of the Mose system, an artificial island was built between the Lido of Venice and Cavallino-Treporti to separate two rows of barriers and house the main technical buildings for the operation of the gates. Critics claim that the island has altered the lagoon and allowed seawater to enter more quickly.
The high tide that hit the city late at night amid heavy rains on November 12 reached a height of 1.87 meters, just below the record 1.94 meters measured in 1966. The city was flooded several times. times the following days.
Venice is flooded several times a year, but of the 23 high tides reaching over 140cm, 14 have occurred in the past two decades.
The November 2019 floods also prompted some residents to leave the city and tourists to cancel their trips.
Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte visited the city in July, when the floodgates were first lifted. At the time, he called for putting controversies over Mose aside and focusing on his completion.
Further testing will be carried out, although the project is not expected to be fully functional until the end of 2021.