Funds assigned to complete Venice’s mobile dams in 2016
This week Venice has witnessed very high flooding again. On Monday 15 October, high tides reached 110 cm above zero on Venice’s tide meter, which is the level designated as a high flood alert. Approximately 12 percent of the historical city was under water, as reported in the Venetian newspaper Il Gazzettino di Venezia on 15 October:
So it was welcome news that during the same week Italy’s government assigned funds to complete the mobile dams currently under construction. These dams are designed to be raised from the seabed when high tides above 110 cm on the tide meter is reached, as on Monday. They would temporarily close Venice’s lagoon from the sea in order to reduce the quantity of water entering the lagoon through its three inlets to the sea. When the flood alerts are over, the dams return to the sea bed. The dam system and debate about it is investigated in detail in my book, Venice in Environmental Peril? Myth and Reality (2012), where it was explained that the completion of the dams would depend upon political and financial support for them. Moreover, the continuing economic crisis in Europe and in Italy raised fears that the dam project would not receive sufficient funding to be finished.
Therefore, the dedication of finance for the dams over the next three years suggests the project will receive sufficient support to be completed in 2016. The Italian government has divided funding for the dam project into tranches of €50 million for 2013 and three payments of €400 million for 2014, 2015 and 2016. The article below in the newspaper Corriere del Veneto on 11 October 2012 includes statements that this means the dam project will be operative during 2016:
However, it is noticeable that the government has only planned to finance €50 million next year and has left much more significant payments for the following three years when we can be confident that there will be a different government. This means that political and economic priorities are still likely to change and, unfortunately, we cannot be so confident that the dam project will be finished in 2016.
In addition, a financial dispute has broken out between the current Italian government and Venice City Council that is related to the dam project. The Italian government has decided not to give Venice City Council a role in the ownership of Venice’s Arsenal, which was once the heart of the city shipbuilding industry and used to be property of Italy’s navy. The Arsenal is one fifteenth of Venice’s historic city and has a lot of potential to be converted for multiple uses, as is also explained in my book Venice in Environmental Peril? Myth and Reality (2012). Venice City Council was expecting to be able to profit from having a role in this conversion. The decision not to offer Venice City Council this role provoked a sizeable demonstration in Venice on Sunday 12 October 2012. This demonstration was supported by Venice’s Mayor, Giorgio Orsoni, as outlined in this article in the Venetian newspaper Il Gazzettino di Venezia on 15 October:
One part of the Arsenal is being developed for operational infrastructure to support the mobile dam project and will be owned by the consortium of companies in charge of the project, the New Venice Consortium (CVN). This consortium recently produced a film showing how the dams will operate and this can be viewed using the link below: