Acqua Alta the Effect Term Paper

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Acqua Alta

The Effect of Acqua Alta on the Venetian Tourist Trade

Venice's tourist trade has reported an annual turnover of about $17 billion a year. Tourist activity is increasing and Venice doesn't appear to be suffering, at least in this respect, from the effects of Acqua Alta. The high water which threatens to ruin Venice has only spurred interest in this city built in a lagoon during the 16th century. They want to see an Atlantis before it sinks into the sea. A huge new hotel is being built to house the growing influx of visitors. Conversion of a neo-Gothic mill into an 11-story hotel with $600-a-night rooms has been done by Acqua Marcia corporation, which calls it the Molino Stucky Hilton (Willey, p. 1).

The salt water lagoon surrounding the city was created by Venetians, who originally diverted two major rivers to run outside of the lagoon so that silt would not fill up the rest of the bay. Usually such lagoons dry up and people can build their enlarging cities on the land, or else the sea encroaches, reclaims the protected area and turns it into a bay. In Venice neither happened and the 212 square miles of water has been kept out of the city for several centuries. Three inlets allow the Adriatic Sea to take back or flush water into the lagoon every six hours, during a normal tide schedule.

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When one approaches Venice, one has to cross sandbars, such as the Lido, which protects the city of Venice from the sea and mud flats covered with waterfowl that inhabit the protected lagoon. One can see many small islands around the central one which holds the city and, as one draws closer, one may realize that Venice is really a series of smaller islands, between which boats run in canals that make up the "streets." Bridges cross these canals and sidewalks border them. The thousands of types of waterfowl outside the city fly over and into the plazas, creating an exotic island that is in harmony with nature. For the sake of the city, for its inhabitants, for the tourists, and for the wetlands' ecosystem which includes thousands of visitors with wings, the lagoon must be saved (Italy, para. 4).

TOPIC: Term Paper on Acqua Alta the Effect of Acqua Alta Assignment

As everyone is aware, the rising sea threatens Venice and the surrounding smaller islands, as human activity makes glacial ice melt and the oceans of the world march inland. No one lives on the ground floor any more in Venice. The foundations were built to withstand some, but not a constant barrage of lapping salt water. Buildings with stone foundations were made using bricks from the ground floor up, but the bricks are now often under water and are deteriorating. Buildings at sea level have their first floor windows covered with cement. These buildings might have been able to withstand the onslaught of a few floods a year, but now there are 100 high tides a year and next year there may be more than 100. Though the sea is encroaching, the ground is also slowly sinking, having sunk 11 inches in the last century (Willey, p. 1).

Shopkeepers are suffering. Shelves have been built in many shops to raise merchandise off the floor, it floods so often, windows and doors have been sealed so that, when shut, they keep the high tides from lapping into the storefronts. The high price of real estate has forced shop owners to live on the mainland and travel into the city daily to run their businesses. Taxes and the expenses of raising sidewalks, setting out risers for tourists to walk over high waters and the newest project to keep high tides out of the bay, have forced many residents from the city. While the population has dwindled from 140,000 to 60,000 residents, there are still 60,000 day visitors and 20,000 tourists daily (Willey, p. 1).

The large, motorized, water buses which have been brought in to transport larger numbers of people than the small vaporetti, bring a faster, more modern look to a city that used to be called la Serenissima, as gondoliers poled their slow way down the canals while singing love songs (Hale, p. 1).

Traffic and water transport are problems which beset the tourist trade, as well as beset those living in the city, and both of these are highly affected by the acqua alta. Though Acqua alta still does not affect most of the city, but only the sites which lie at sea level, there will be those tourists who decide not to visit because of it. Yet the tourist trade is growing and those who come do not find they are much hindered by the water.

Some tourists come to see whether they believe the new technology that has been created will rescue the lagoon. The "experimental electromechanic module," or MOSE for short, is the largest, most experimental public project in the history of a country known for its inventors. Consisting of 78 floodgates located beneath the water of three inlets, they can block the water of the Adriatic Sea from coming into the lagoon. The reason there are so many, is that they may be alternately used or not used, depending on the tides, so that one inlet may be closed while others are left open. When the winds come from one direction, only a few of the gates may be closed, so that there will be an exchange of water and the rest of the water won't be completely blocked (Poggoli, p. 3)

Another solution for certain areas of the city which has been discussed is to raise the foundations of the buildings up to 100 centimeters or40 inches. (Bon, p. 1)

The mobile barrier, made up of enormous metal boxes filled with water, are attached with hinges to reinforced concrete foundations on the inlet floors and, when raised, are designed to prevent tides higher than 110 centimeters, or about 3.5 feet from flooding the lagoon. The plan is to complete the project by 2012, at a cost of $5 billion.

When an extremely high tide is expected, the caissons will be pumped up with air, which will cause them to rise above water level and block the tide. As the tide subsides the caissons will be allowed to take in water again and return to resting position beneath the water. During normal high tides tourists still must wear "Wellington" boots, because the caissons will not be used to block them.

Since the project was presented to the Venetians, it has created controversy among the Italian people. The Italia Nostra (a group of prominent italians dedicated to retaining the heritage and environment of Italy) has been against the plan because "the dams will render permanent the lagoon's environmental imbalance... And this rich coastal lagoon, protected by European law, would be transformed into an area of open sea." MOSE is about half done and still there are protests (Poggoli, p. 3).

Some people claim MOSE will derange the tidal patterns in the lagoon, creating chronic problems for one of the largest and most important wetlands in Europe. Others say pollution created by the zinc plates and the antifouling paint on the boxes will harm both the lagoon and the Adriatic. Some object to the phenomenal cost; yet others scoff because they claim that after twenty years of legal battles, the design was obsolete before work began. Still others point out that such a massive public work has skirted European regulations in a number of ways, including a failure to submit a complete environmental-impact statement (Zwingle, p. 3).

Yet all science or Italian opinion can be certain of is that no one knows whether MOSE will work or not, or how often it may be used, or whether it will create environmental problems.… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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