Floodgates in Venice work in first major test

By Elisabetta Povoledo, The New York Times, October 3, 2020

A network of 78 floodgates barricading three inlets protected Venice from high tides that would have flooded about half the city’s streets if the gates had not been raised.

“Designed some four decades ago to help save Venice from flooding, the mobile barrier system was delayed by cost overruns, corruption, and opposition from environmental and conservation groups.

“Alberto Scotti, the engineer who designed the floodgates, said the floodgates had been designed to defend the city ‘even in anomalous situations,’ and even with high tides reaching nearly 10 feet.

“While supporters of the project welcomed October 3rd’s test as a major victory, some pointed out that the floodgates won’t fully solve the growing threat posed by climate change.

“ ‘With climate change, there’s a chance that the floodgates could be employed 150-180 days a year, becoming an almost fixed barrier and severing the lagoon’s relation to the sea,’ said Cristiano Gasparetto, an architect and former provincial official who has long opposed the project.

“ ‘If the lagoon is cut off from the sea for long periods, it dies, because the natural exchange of waters stops, and all of its organic life risks decaying,’ he said.

“ ‘If the lagoon dies, Venice dies,’ he added.”

Read the full article here. (~3 min.)

RELATED: A short video from the BBC shows Venice’s mobile flood barriers being tested in 2013 during an earlier stage of construction.

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