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The Economist 12.07.2020: Venice Tests Its Flood Defences

On 10 July 2020, Venice’s mobile flood barrier – known as the MOSE – was tested for the first time.

We are here Venice’s Jane da Mosto provided The Economist with insight into the project’s troubled past.

The causes of the gradual rise in sea levels around Venice are nowadays global warming and the abuse of the lagoon. “Imagine a bath with a huge sponge in it,” says Jane Da Mosto, executive director of We Are Here Venice, an NGO. “Open a tap and some of the water will reach the end of the bath. But a lot of it will be absorbed by the sponge.” The sponge in her example is made of salt marshes around the lagoon; but these have been severely eroded by port activities and unmanaged boat traffic. Human intervention has also flattened the bed of the lagoon and scored it with navigation channels, allowing water to flow into the city with greater force and increasing the distance between high and low tides.

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