Europe South Asia Asia Pacific Americas Middle East Africa BBC Homepage World Service Education

Front Page



UK Politics







Talking Point
On Air
Low Graphics

Thursday, December 31, 1998 Published at 01:52 GMT

World: Europe

Venice flood barriers shelved

Venice is facing the possibility of death by drowning

A controversial billion-dollar engineering project to help protect Venice from flooding has been shelved by the Italian Government.

Environment Minister Edo Ronchi said money would first be spent on a big clean-up to prevent the lagoon turning into "a bowl of pollution".

This will include dredging city canals and raising the level of streets.

[ image: Air filled barriers]
Air filled barriers
The flood prevention project included the construction of mobile, steel-and-rubber barriers which could be lowered to stop unusually high tides from the Adriatic Sea entering the city.

The decision to postpone the scheme indefinitely comes after a team of government experts rejected the proposal earlier this month, sparking outrage from the local authorities.

They say the city is increasingly vulnerable to flooding, because of the gradual erosion of its foundations and abnormally high tides caused by global warming.

Local authorities said that by 2050, much of Venice could be awash permanently. Earlier this century, flooding only occurred an average of five times a year.

Foundations crumbling

The city is built on more than 100 small islands, protected by a natural lagoon. Temporary raised walkways allow life to function much as normal during unusually high tides in winter.

But the frequency of these tides, which eat away at the foundations of the historic city, has increased.

The number of flood emergencies declared during the past 10 years has tripled.

Last year, floodwaters transformed St Marks Square - the lowest point in the city - into an outdoor swimming pool.

The rejected plan had been opposed by ecologists who said that cutting off the city's freshwater lagoon from the Adriatic Sea would condemn it to a slow death.

Successive Italian governments have been wary of committing themselves to the huge expenditure involved in closing off the lagoon, while at the same time leaving it open to shipping for the nearby port of Margara.

Advanced options | Search tips

Back to top | BBC News Home | BBC Homepage | ©

Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East | South Asia

Relevant Stories

07 Dec 98 | Europe
Venice behind barriers

Internet Links

Animated model of mobile gates (Shockwave)

Save Venice

Report on the mobile gates project

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites.

In this section

Violence greets Clinton visit

Russian forces pound Grozny

EU fraud: a billion dollar bill

Next steps for peace

Cardinal may face loan-shark charges

From Business
Vodafone takeover battle heats up

Trans-Turkish pipeline deal signed

French party seeks new leader

Jube tube debut

Athens riots for Clinton visit

UN envoy discusses Chechnya in Moscow

Solana new Western European Union chief

Moldova's PM-designate withdraws

Chechen government welcomes summit

In pictures: Clinton's violent welcome

Georgia protests over Russian 'attack'

UN chief: No Chechen 'catastrophe'

New arms control treaty for Europe

From Business
Mannesmann fights back

EU fraud -- a billion-dollar bill

New moves in Spain's terror scandal

EU allows labelling of British beef

UN seeks more security in Chechnya

Athens riots for Clinton visit

Russia's media war over Chechnya

Homeless suffer as quake toll rises

Analysis: East-West relations must shift