MoSE. There is still an alternative.


(NO MOSE demonstrators – the caption reads “We were and we are right!”)

Is it worth completing a project that we already know will not fulfill the objectives for which it was designed? And which will involve major costs for maintenance and management for the next one hundred years?

By Armando Danella, Ambiente Venezia

3 May 2018

What to do, faced with a major project which is both misguided and costly such as MoSE, a project which will soon be rendered useless by the increases in sea level predicted in the coming years due to climate change?

Today MoSE is stained by the scandal surrounding it, by the reality of corruption, bribes, connections between the controllers and the controlled, and dark money that the Magistrate has exposed.

It was an impressive system of underworld and criminal power that involved politicians, administrators, businesses, the Magistrate of Waters, other ministries, the Guardia di Finanza and the Corte dei Conti.

The widespread media coverage of the worthy cooperative actions of those responsible for bringing the project back within the law runs the risk of obscuring the substance of the system of MoSE itself. We are witnessing a widespread attitude of not wanting to know, of not investigating, a will to forget or completely ignore what MoSE technically is and was during its development. Due to this, attention to the workings of the Magistratura remains in the background, while the fervent opposition to this project, to its nature, its structure and its function are suppressed; it seems almost like an unavoidable destiny that this work has to be brought to completion exactly as it was wished by the designers and those who approved it.

Everything is proceeding without rethinking: scientific rigor, the “I think therefore I am”, the incipient motivation that would definitively halt this project don’t “have a part” in the advancement of the work. Thus regarding MoSE we continue to ignore or misunderstand how many alternative approaches are possible, alternatives which could be realized immediately and allow us to avoid continuing to act in ways that will worsen the various problem areas of the project, with negative fallout for the equilibrium of the lagoon, port activities and the public budget.

When it comes to projects designed to protect Venice from high seas, a plan of action must be applied based on a mathematical model – bidimensional models with a fixed and mobile base – applied to the hydrodynamics and the morphology of the lagoon, for which the scientific reference remains the School of Hydraulics in Padova – the Department of Hydraulic, Maritime, Environmental and Geotechnical Engineering.

For example, the installation of mechanisms which are removable seasonally has the advantage of allowing them to operate at the mouth of the ports with two different levels of narrowing: more open during the summer period, when in principle a greater exchange between the sea and the lagoon is desirable, and narrower during the period of late autumn and winter, during which the acque alte arrive with greater frequency and a reduced exchange of waters is better supported by the lagoon.

As far as regards the structures which will close the gates we need to identify those technological solutions (for example removable submergible pontoons with gravity dams) that avoid the phenomena related to resonance and dynamic instability that the dams of MoSE display, and that even today we incomprehensibly avoid acknowledging.

These measures represent a First Phase that would allow for a strong reduction in the size of the tides, in particular those that are medium-high, which are those which arrive with the greatest frequency in the city. This will also have the effect, fundamentally, of buying the time needed to develop and perfect, in a Second Phase, methods of defense that are more suited, even at a greater territorial scale, to the predicted consequences of climate change.

All of this represents a radical variation of the MoSE project, in fact its abandonment. And the new financial obligations to be sustained, while benefitting from a drastic reduction in the high costs of maintenance and management that the structure of MoSE will require and from a partial recouping of materials already existent and deployed for MoSE, must also take note of the loss of money spent for all the measures that cannot under any circumstances be recovered and which are the offspring of a wretched approach to a project supported by a criminal system.

Given the insistence on the pursuit of the work without accounting for the problems that have been revealed, and since its lack of functionality can be seen only in the future when the work is completed, there needs to be a declaration of repeated fiscal damage to the State which puts under precautionary sequestration the assets of all the subjects, political and technical, who with their signatures on specific documents (documentation filed by the City of Venice with all the institutions involved with the procedural plans for MoSE) contributed to, along with the president of the council Prodi and part of his government, the suppression of the alternative proposals offered by the City of Venice in 2006, under Mayor Cacciari. Even today the installation of these alternatives would likely represent more functional solutions, both for the equilibrium of the lagoon as well as for the ports, with a view towards drastically reducing the high costs of maintenance and management of MoSE and a greater awareness of the evolution of the rising of the sea levels.

However, all of this cannot avoid the question that many are asking: is it worth stopping work on a project that is approaching completion and that has already cost 6 billion Euro? This is a legitimate question which one might follow with another: is it worth, considering the scientific rigor that has always characterized efforts at safeguarding, wanting to complete a work which we already know will not fulfill the objectives for which is was conceived and which brings with it heavy costs for maintenance and management for the next 100 years (this is the predicted lifespan of the work) that will weigh on the public debt? To finish a mistaken work, one that we know is mistaken based on documented problems, represents another punishable crime.

Furthermore: confronted with a scenario of global warming with sea level rise in the Adriatic predicted in the 4th IPCC Report presented at the Conference on Climate Change in Paris on 1 December 2015, from which we derive the need to modify the water – soil height ratio by raising the soil itself, why insist like a sort of therapeutic mantra on the pursuit of a project that the numbers in this same Report show will require the maximum number of closures of the mouths of the ports?

The redemption of the MoSE scandal can be achieved only with the recognition of the errors which have been committed, allowing for substantive discussion of the project and with the affirmation and vindication of that independent scientific knowledge that the corrupt history of the “great work” has completely rejected and ignored.

It is for good reason that the Assembly NO MOSE coined the slogan, “MoSE: a work that is useful only for those who are building it”.



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