Overcoming a myriad of problems
After years of economic, technical and political challenges, Venice's ambitious Mose flood defence system is set to be operational by 2021 after recent tests.
First designed back in 1984, the multi-billion dollar project includes 78 giant yellow sluice gates that rise simultaneously to provide a protective wall.
Named after the biblical prophet Moses who parted the Red Sea, the term is also an acronym, in Italian as “Modulo Sperimentale Elettromeccanico” and translated as “Experimental Electromechanical Module”.
Venice’s history of flooding
The lagoon city is one of the most picturesque yet fragile cities from the threat of climate change, including rising sea levels.
In 1966, Venice faced the worst flooding in its history, with waters rising 194 cm above sea level, almost covering the entire city.
This prompted the Italian government to ask engineers to start designing a sea barrier that eventually resulted in the publicly financed mega infrastructure project.
In November 2019 the Italian city faced its highest water levels in more than 50 years with repeated flooding.
Two thirds of the city were underwater, including the iconic St Mark’s Square, with estimated damages totalling over a billion euros.
At the time Venice Mayor Luigi Brugnaro tweeted that the flooding would leave a “permanent mark”.
How does Mose work?
Construction started on the Mose project in 2003 with completion originally slated for 2011.
With a revised operational date set for next year, the Moses system is designed to protect Venice from tides up to 3 metres in height.
Consisting of 78 bright yellow mobile gates, the Mose system will be positioned at the inlets of Lido, Malamocco and Chioggia to help prevent rising sea levels eventually reaching Venice.
Below you can see more details of how the system will work.