Venice Storm Wall

Engineers are building a vast sea barrier that will protect the Venetian lagoon from high tides and prevent the most severe floods

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Venice Storm Wall

Venice is hit by almost 100 floods each year, gradually destroying the fabric of this historic city, but now engineers are building a vast sea barrier that will protect the Venetian lagoon from high tides and prevent the most severe floods. Already 15 years in the making and costing almost 5 billion pounds this barrier, called ‘MOSE’, will be completely unique - a system of 78 steel gates built into the seabed that can be raised when the tide threatens the city. 

We visit the shipyard in Croatia building the gates and meet the team who must precision cut and weld the giant sheets of steel that make up each 330 ton gate. Once complete, we see the gates loaded onto a barge that will be towed to Venice, but as each gate is rolled onto the floating platform it could capsize, so the team use an ingenious system of ballast tanks inside to balance the barge.

Back in Venice, we meet conservationist, Paolo Pagnin, who shows us how the rising waters soak the ancient brickwork, depositing corroding salt that is eating away the city’s buildings. Out at the lagoon inlet, the gates arrive from Croatia and must now be installed on the seabed by engineer, Francesco Zago. He uses a unique crane, called the ‘Grasshopper’, to lower the first gate into place, although an invasion of crabs threatens the operation! Project Leader, Dario Berti, reveals how Venice’s seagulls are unexpectedly attracted to the newly delivered gates and seem hell-bent on eating the protective yellow paint.

We gain access to the MOSE control centre and show how they will decide when to deploy the barriers using a network of offshore instruments that predict high tides. Finally, we see the team locking the inlet’s last gate into place and testing the system.

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