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Venice 2014

Barrier: Function and Construction

"Building barriers and flood defences against changing sea levels is an on-going process. Barriers buy you time." - Sarah Lavery, Thames Flood Defence Strategy 2100[14]

The proposal for a system of floodgates met with a fierce political and scientific debate. Many questions were raised as to its viability and effects on the ecology of the lagoon. Between 1988 and 1992 an experimental prototype, called MOSE or the Modulo Sperimentale Elettromeccanico, was constructed and tested.[15] After a number of successful tests and twenty years of planning and technical development, the final approval to begin construction was given. Work on MOSE commenced in 2003 under the Consorzio Venezia Nuova, acting on behalf of the Ministry of Infrastructure and Transport, which is Venice’s water authority. MOSE must comply with many constraints imposed by the Comitatone, which include: the barriers must have little or no negative impact on navigation, nor on lagoon flushing and water quality, ecology and habitats, or on the aesthetic of the lagoon.

The floodgates consist of a total of 78 hinged steel floodgates divided between the three inlets: the Lido, 41 gates separated in the middle by an artificial island, the Malamocco, 19 gates, and the Chioggia, 18 gates. Each panel is 20 meters wide, 18-28 meters in length, and 5 meters thick.[16] The panels lie parallel to the lagoon bed, full of water until a time in which they are needed, when the water will be pumped out and the spaced filled with air. The floodgates will remain up until the water abates. The gates are raised when the water surge is predicted to be greater than 110cm. MOSE is designed to protect Venice and the lagoon from tides of up to 3 meters. 

[14] Fletcher, Caroline and Jane Da Mosto. The Science of Saving Venice. Turin: Umberto Allemandi & Co., 2004. p. 61.

[15] idid. p.64. 

[16] Water-Technology, "MOSE Project, Venice, Venetian Lagoon, Italy." Last modified 2012. (accessed February 1, 2014).

Barrier: Function and Construction