Will the "walls of Moses" save Venice and its history?

In 2019, the water level rose about one meter above normal in Venice, And with it, the tension of the inhabitants of this Italian city rose. After two hours the water receded, leaving about 90 percent of the city undamaged. Its inhabitants breathed a sigh of relief; It’s just another high tide in the lake.

The calm lasted a few hours. Before dark the sirens sounded. Within an hour, the squares and alleys of the historic city disappeared under a torrent of sea water. “It was a huge wave, the like of which we have never seen before, a tsunami,” says Marco Malafonte, owner of a property management company. Marco and his wife “Caroline Gucherato” joined the rescue effort. In San Marco, the lowest point in the city, an elderly French tourist and her infant grandson were caught in the flood, leaning against a stone wall on which she placed her grandson waiting for help. Gucherato came to her aid. “The famous tourist water buses were tossed along the alleys and bridges like children’s toys,” Malfonte recalled. In the evening the tide receded to about two meters and water covered about 85 percent of Venice. This incident was recorded as the second largest flood that Venice experienced in its history, with a height of more than 20 centimeters compared to the average height of its inhabitants.

In the past, such floods were rare A few times over a century. But half of the floods of the past 100 years occurred after 2009. The new reality prompted officials to spend billions of dollars to build a series of movable walls to stop the flow of water into the city, dubbed the “Moses Walls.” The new system works effectively as it closes off the Venetian lagoon when the tide rises in the Adriatic. This gigantic engineering experiment is a last-ditch effort to save one of the world’s most beautiful and ancient cities. But it poses an environmental hazard to the lake, with its fragile ecosystem, and the salt marshes that have breathed life into the city for 1,800 years. The walls of the Musa system operate on an experimental electromechanical model. The name was inspired by the story of the Prophet Moses, who split the Red Sea with his stick, and crossed it with the Children of Israel to escape the persecution of the Pharaoh in Egypt. The cost of the project so far has reached about 6 billion US dollars. The project has been repeatedly halted due to contractor payments delays, as well as political crises.

The “Walls of Moses” project aims To protect the gun until the end of the current century at least. At that time, the average water level is expected to rise by 0.6 metres. The project will officially start operating in 2023, but the nearly completed levees have been in trial service since late 2020. The system is based on four giant dams that lock the flow of water from the Adriatic Sea into the lagoon. The system was first activated in October 2020 to respond to tides above a metre. Despite many predictions of failure, the system succeeded in keeping the city dry and safe. Over the next 20 months, the gates were shut 33 times in trials that lasted between 30 and 92 minutes. About this success, Elisabetta Spitz, the senior commissioner of the Musa project, said in an interview with National Geographic: “The Musa system definitely protects the gun.”