Wednesday, November 23, 2005

New idea: Inject sea water to raise Venice

BEIJING, Nov. 23 -- A group of Italian engineers and geology experts said Monday they are considering injecting sea water under Venice to raise the waterlogged city 30 centimeters and rescue it from the tides and floods that bedevil it.

"It would allow Venice to regain ... nearly the same amount of centimeters by which it sank over the last 300 years," said Giuseppe Gambolati, the head of the project.

The US$117-million project entails digging 12 holes with a 30-centimeter diameter within a 9.6-kilometer area around the city of Venice, and to pump sea water into the ground, said Gambolati, an engineer and professor at the University of Padua.

The sea water is expected to make the sand that lies underneath expand, which combined with a topping of waterproof clay would eventually push up the soil, Gambolati said.

The project is still in its initial phase and it will have to be discussed and evaluated by various city, regional and state commissions before being approved.

Venice is threatened by water on several fronts. The city is sinking while the level of the Adriatic sea is rising and high tides are becoming more frequent, flooding into famed St. Mark's Square and prompting officials to set up raised plank walkways.

The decades-old debate on how to save Venice from water brought approval in 2003 of a vast project to build a flood barrier to ease the effect of high tides.

(Source: Shenzhen Daily/Agencies)


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