Project Moses

Old Dec 8th, 2001, 08:10 AM
Bob Brown
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Project Moses

Any comments on Project Moses for Venice?
It will be costly, but is it worth it??
Old Dec 8th, 2001, 08:31 AM
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Maybe you should explain what it is.
Old Dec 8th, 2001, 09:38 AM
wes fowler
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Project Moses,long overdue, is an attempt to control the tides of the Venetian lagoon thus reducing Venice's sinking into the Adriatic. It involves a process similar to that which the British have employed on the Thames and the Netherlanders with their Delta project. To oversimplify, it involves creation of a mechanical barrier that can be raised or lowered as needed in order to keep out the sea.

I've never understood why the Venetians have never engaged Dutch engineering to solve the problem of Venice's sinking. Since over 90% of the Netherlands is man made as a result of Dutch ingenuity in controlling the sea and its tides, seems the Dutch are the experts in land reclamation.

Interesting to contemplate: if Moses is a success and water levels drop precipitously, the wooden piles supporting most if not all of Venice's buildings will be exposed to the atmosphere and immediately incur rot thus threatening Venice as badly as rising water levels now do.
Old Dec 8th, 2001, 10:26 AM
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Has construction on this already begun, or is it still in the planning stages?

Also, doesn't Venice already have some kind of barriers in place? (I thought I saw, or read, that once.)

Interesting info, wes...thanks.
Old Dec 8th, 2001, 11:44 AM
wes fowler
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It's interesting to seek out comparisons and contrasts between Venice and the Netherlands. Both came to being within a couple of hundred years of one another, each on sand bars and bogs in the deltas formed by three rivers. Both are at the mercy of the sea. Much of the Netherlands is as much as 16 feet below sea level. Much of the country is protected by dykes, sea walls and drainage canals. Venice, about seven feet about sea level on average, is dependent upon its outer islands to protect it and its lagoon from the Adriatic. Amsterdam's largest building, the Central Station rests on almost a million wooden piles. So, too, does Venice's Basilica, that city's largest building. Each ultimately became powerful maritime empires, Venice in the Adriatic and the Middle East, the Netherlands in the East and West Indies.
Each saw its empires dwindle then vanish within a hundred years of one another; the Netherlands surpassed by Great Britain, the Venetians by the seamen explorers of the Atlantic. Both have constantly fought against the sea with varying degrees of intensity and success. Venice's most recent attempt dates back to the mid 1700's and the creation of the Murazzi, a sea wall of granite on the outer reaches of the lagoon. The Netherlands most recent protective measure was the Delta Plan of the 1950's and 60's. Its most ambitious and recent plan has been the draining of much of the Zuider Zee and the creation of the province of Flevoland on reclaimed sea bottom.

Where the Netherlands builds to preserve and extend its lands, Venice has done little since the 18th century other than to speed up its slow descent below flood waters. Extensive dredging of canals and lagoons over the years to accommodate maritime traffic and cruise ships has accelerated the sea's assault upon the city by diverting the natural flow of tides and rivers. There was a time once believe it or not, when the Grand Canal (actually a river rather than a canal) ran dry!
Old Dec 8th, 2001, 12:14 PM
Bob Brown
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Hmm. If I have to explain it, then how can you be in a position to comment on it?? I would be the one commenting, which was not the intent.
For more information, here is a place to look:

The idea is to protect Venice from being drowned by high water.
The Italian Comititone approved the design on Dec 7. The idea itself has been kicking around a while, but calling it Project Mose or Moses is relatively new I think.
Old Dec 8th, 2001, 12:51 PM
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I don't know that much about this, but:

the comparison is not the same - the Dutch have created dry land. The lagoon of the Veneto is a very diverse ecosystem that relies on the daily sweep of the tides and the influx of fresh water from the rivers. The best they can hope for is a control, like Britain, to prevent the high tides from causing problems on the ground floor of buildings. Using levees and trickling a maintenance amount of water into the lagoon sounds like a quick way to kill the ecology.
I thought I read somewhere the problem with Venice was the huge amount of well water sucked out of the underground aquifers by industrial operations on the mainland (Mestre?). In the last decade or two, the practice is banned and the land has stopped sinking, and even started to rebound as the aquifer fills up. (Is this true?) There is, however, a century of abuse to make up for.

Since Venice is essentially a museum or showcase, nobody would suggest draining it to the point where the canals are empty and the pilings exposed.

Someone else has suggested the shifting associated with the pilings in the mud may cause the buildings to crumble faster than they can do fixes on them; that Venice may be gone within a century.
Is someone doing high-tech fixes on the foundations like the recent leaning tower repairs? I think that a series of injected cement sub-floors might create a stable foundation under some buildings without distrubing them.
Old Dec 8th, 2001, 07:33 PM
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The part about the underground aquifers affecting ground elevation is true. It happens in southern California where they seasonally pump the aquifers. Studies have shown huge areas of southern California tht routinely raise & lower by as much as 3 feet. I've never heard about this in the Venice area, but it could be a small part of the problem.
Old Dec 10th, 2001, 06:03 AM
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As Dayle mentioned above, I saw a recent show about the problem that California is facing because of using up the water in its aquifers.

They pull all the water out, the ground sinks. As the aquifers fill the ground rebounds but not as much - there is a "hardening" effect taking place.

This isn't so much a problem for buildings or for bring water into the cities (just add pumping stations), the real problem the cities will be facing is when the sewage begins to run backwards - all sewage, drainage - is gravity driven.

Old Dec 10th, 2001, 06:54 AM
Book Chick
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I thought the project was canned because it was too expensive. (Although I have no concept as to why it would be too expensive to save an entire city from sinking!) I'd read that as it was explored, the over-run into the possibly tens of billions was viewed as prohibitively expensive.

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