June floods in #Venice, but these follow the first closing of two inlets with mobile dams

Venice is experiencing rare June flooding after heavy rain and strong winds, which are unusual in the Veneto region at this time of year. On the evening of 4 June 2020, the water level reached 116 cm on the city tide gauge and people waded around a flooded St. Mark’s Square as can be seen in this video:

Acqua alta a Venezia: la marea fuori stagione arriva a 116 centimetri

Flooding also occurred late Friday and is forecast for Saturday and Sunday nights, but at lower levels of 105-100 cm compared with Thursday’s flooding, as noted on Venice City Council’s website:

Meteo: durante il weekend previsti livelli di marea sostenuti 

This is only the third time in the last 20 years that Venice has had floods over 100 cm in June. The tide level reached 117 cm on 16 June 2016 and 121 cm on 6 June 2002. New June floods follow the terrible damage caused to the city and wider Veneto region in the autumn of 2019, which was described here:

VENICE SUFFERS ITS WORST FLOODS FOR 53 YEARS. MY ASSESSMENT, AN UPDATE ON THE MOSE MOBILE DAMS AND COMMENTS ABOUT THE CAUSES AND RESPONSES ON EURONEWS

As I explained in the article in the link below, these floods were not indicative of a ‘climate apocalypse’ or crisis and local solutions to reduce the impact of high floods can be found:

Venice’s floods are not signs of a ‘climate apocalypse’ 

The most important of these solutions are the mobile dams at the three inlets between Venice’s lagoon and the Adriatic Sea. The 78 dams are all now installed and those at the Chioggia and Malamocco inlets were raised to close those inlets on 31 May 2020 for the first time. Leading engineer Davide Sernaglia described in the article below how there were no problems with the synchronisation of the dams or co-ordination of the team in charge of this test, although he added that the 60 minutes it took to raise them can be cut to 30 minutes as demonstrated previously. Following raising the dams at the Lido inlet in the past, the test on 31 May means all the dams have now been successfully raised but on different occasions. On 30 June 2020, all three inlets are scheduled to be closed by the dams simultaneously. If this is successful, it will be the first time the Venice lagoon has been closed to the Adriatic Sea. Venice’s Mayor Luigi Brugnaro commented after the tests on 31 May that Venice would be safe from high floods from mid-July 2020. Similarly, the ‘super commissioner’ in charge of the Mose dam project, Elisabetta Spitz, remarked that the dams could be used to protect Venice from high floods in the autumn when these floods are more common. However, Spitz confirmed that the delivery date for the dam project is still set for 31 December 2021 and it will be fully functioning in 2022. Effectively, they are proposing that Venice could be protected by the dams from flooding during the testing period. All these comments are included in this article; 

Venezia, Mose: sollevate tutte schiere. Due bocche di porto chiuse, è la prima volta

Nevertheless, there are still many problems to resolve with the dams, including rusting and erosion of many parts including barriers that have been under water since 2013. Moreover, the dams have not yet been tested against serious storm surges pushing high volumes of water into the lagoon from the sea. While there is some optimism that Venice can be protected from higher floods after these tests, it remains to be seen whether they will be functional after a long history of delays and controversies since work began in 2003 after the project was first conceived in 1970. 

The dam project, named ‘Mose’ in the 1980s, has been discussed on this blog in previous posts which can be read here:

Mose mobile dams

The Mose dam project and wider environmental issues were situated in the history and culture of Venice in my book with information here:

BOOK INFORMATION FOR ‘VENICE IN ENVIRONMENTAL PERIL? MYTH AND REALITY’

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