The Washington PostThe Washington Post

An engineering marvel just saved Venice from a flood. What about when seas rise?

By Chico Harlan and Stefano Pitrelli

26 Nov 2022 · 8 min read

Editor's Note

The Washington Post explores the $6 billion engineering project designed to protect Venice from mass flooding and analyzes just how helpful it will be as sea levels continue to rise.

VENICE - Three years ago, a historic rush of water surged into this city, inundating restaurants and churches, tossing boats onto streets, and leaving Venetians distressed about a future with ever more extreme events. But this past week, one of those events arrived - a tide nearly as large as 2019's - and residents barely noticed, aside from some wind and rain. The city was spared from disaster.

That's because of a $6 billion engineering project designed to protect Venice from mass flooding and the exhausting cycle of cleanup and recovery. The lagoon city's inlets are now guarded by 78 rectangular metal barriers, each the height of a five-story building, that are pumped with air and raised from the sea floor any time high waters threaten it.

Sign in to informed

  • Curated articles from premium publishers, ad-free
  • Concise Daily Briefs with quick-read summaries
  • Read, listen, save for later, or enjoy offline
  • Enjoy personalized content