Venice authorities have tested a controversial flood dam system on Friday, leading to the separation of the Venetian lagoon from the Adriatic Sea for the first time.
The system, which has 78 locks whose objective is to prevent the entry of water and prevent heavy flooding into the city, is known as MOSE and costs around 5.5 billion euros. The project has been criticized for its involvement in corruption cases, as well as for its high budget and completion schedule.
The works began in 2003 and are expected to finish in December 2021. Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, who has moved to Venice despite the coronavirus pandemic for the test, has asserted that, although the project has suffered “clear episodes of corruption”, it is important now to “focus on its goal: make it work”.
The engineers have designed four dykes with 78 locks that will be raised simultaneously and will allow the lagoon to be closed when heavy flooding occurs.
The ANSA news agency has indicated that the test has been carried out successfully and that all the gates have been lifted in about an hour and a half. According to an engineer working on the project, the estimated time will be half an hour when the entire system is complete.
The Mayor of Venice, Luigi Brugnaro, has described the experiment as a “great achievement” and “the result of Italian ingenuity” despite all the delays suffered. Protection against floods is essential for Venice, especially after the heavy rainfall registered last November, which caused serious damage to the city.