Venice raises all ‘MOSE’ mobile dams to block its lagoon from the sea for the first time, despite protests and problems

On 10 July 2020, for the first time ever, Venice’s lagoon effectively became an artificial lake temporarily. This great feat of engineering was achieved by raising all 78 mobile floodgates at the three inlets between the lagoon and the Adriatic Sea. These had all previously been raised during past tests, but this was the first time they had been raised simultaneously to form a 1.5 KM dam between the sea and lagoon.

Previous tests had experienced problems. Only one week before their raising on 10 July, four floodgates were raised but initially failed to lower back down into their caissons as sand had got into the chambers. Indeed, there are many problems with erosion and rusting to resolve before the floodgates are due to be fully functional at the end of 2021, even though Venice Mayor Luigi Brugnaro and representatives of the CVN company in charge of the dam project have stated the floodgates could be used earlier, as quoted here:

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

There is also the problem that Italy’s government has not yet issued a tender for the management and maintenance of the floodgates when they are operational. It estimated to cost €100 M a year just for maintenance after €6 BN has been spent on constructing the MOSE dam.

Nevertheless, the government’s Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte attended the dam raising on 10 July in the control room at the Lido. Protestors took to boats to demonstrate against the dam raising but were blocked off by police. The protestors were from the No MOSE campaign, which used to be one of the most prominent environmental campaigns in Venice. But this campaign has been largely inactive in recent years as many of those involved moved on to focus their claims-making on stopping big ships and cruise ships from entering the lagoon. Cruise ships are currently not coming to or leaving Venice due to the Covid-19 virus.

The dams urgently need to be completed with technical and management issues resolved. The worst floods for 50 years caused millions of Euros in damage during November 2019.

There have been many delays to the MOSE dams since the idea for them was first proposed in 1970 and work started in 2003. The reasons for these delays have varied at different times and include technical problems, design changes, funding issues, corruption and political opposition. The evolution of Venice’s dam project and the campaigns against it are set out in my book ‘Venice in Environmental Peril? Myth and Reality’. Information about this book is in this link below:

One Response to “Venice raises all ‘MOSE’ mobile dams to block its lagoon from the sea for the first time, despite protests and problems”
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  1. […] Last year, the MOSE dam system was due to be operational by the start of 2022. But since that awful period of high flooding, tests have been done and the government, local authorities and people working on the dam system should be commended for putting it into operation. On 10 July 2020, all 78 barriers were raised to separate the lagoon from the sea for the first time, but this was during good weather. There were some problems in July with barriers returning back down into their caissons and there are still many problems with rusting and erosion of parts in the dam system. We hope all barriers return to their caissons without difficulties when the high tides lower this weekend. In July protesters with the ‘No MOSE’ campaign demonstrated against the raising of the dams and were blocked by police from obstructing the test, as noted here:… […]

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