Venice Struggles to Stay Afloat

Billion-dollar floodgates may fail to stave off rising tides
By Nick McMaster,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 20, 2009 4:26 PM CDT
Policemen guide tourists walking across boards used to create walkways over high water in the flooded Piazza San Marco on December 2, 2008 in Venice, Italy.   (Getty Images)
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(Newser) – Not only is Venice sinking, but the $6-billion floodgates designed to protect it may not do the job, NPR reports. Critics say that the 78 half-built mobile gates, designed to block off seawater when it rises, may fail to fend off sea levels heightened by climate change. And even if they do, they could upset the fragile ecosystem between the sea and the city's lagoon.

Some scientists say the only solution is to raise all of Venice by injecting carbon dioxide or salt water more than 2,000 feet beneath the lagoon. "The preliminary simulation shows that fluid injection into deep formation can uniformly raise Venice up to 30 centimeters over 10 years," says one marine scientist. But that would mean asking the state to open its pocketbook again.