2020 has been a crappy year, but finally something has gone right. On October 3rd, MOSE (moh•ZEH) was activated for the first time and prevented flooding in Venezia caused by high tide! Yeah!
MOSE stands for MOdulo Sperimentale Elettromeccanico (experimental electromechanical model). Whoever came up with the acronym is brilliant, because in Italian, Mosè, with an accent on the ‘e’, is Moses, who parted the Red Sea.
MOSE is floating architecture-a series of temporary barriers formed by 78 bright yellow mobile gates at the bottom of the seabed. The 4 barriers are located at the 3 inlets; 2 at the Lido, 1 at Malamocco and 1 at Chioggia.
During normal conditions, the gates are full of water and resting out of view within their housing structures. When a high tide is predicted, compressed air is introduced into the gates to empty them of water. This causes them to rotate around the hinge axis and rise up above the water to block the tide from entering the lagoon. When the tide has dropped, the gates are filled with water and return to their resting places.
It takes about 30 minutes to raise the gates and 15 to lower them. MOSE is designed to protect Venezia from tides of up to 3meters (10 ft). A video on how the system works can be found on the Mosevenezia website.
Acqua alta (high water) occurs mostly from October to March and has always been a problem in the Venetian lagoon. The first documentation of it was on October 17, 589! It has gotten worse since 1935, mostly due to environmental issues. Last year, on November 12, 2019 187 cm of water was the worst flooding since 194cm in 1966.
MOSE has been plagued with delays and cost overruns. Hopefully now that it works, it will stop the worst of the flooding. Measures are also being implemented to improve the lagoon environment, decrease erosion, restore the environment of the smaller islands in the lagoon and decrease pollution in the industrial Porto Marghera. Hopefully they ban cruise ships soon too!
Fingers crossed MOSE will continue to work. It has been 26 years since I visited Venezia, and I would like it to still be standing when I manage to get back! Ciao, Cristina