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Eddytoriale 11 (April 15, 2003)
11 Gennaio 2005
Eddytoriali 2003
April 15, 2003 – Two threats hang on Venice. The first comes from inside: the crawling transformation into Disneyland, marvellously described by Francesco Erbani. The second comes from outside: it is represented by MoSE, whose foundation stone will be laid by Mister Berlusconi (who else could it be?) in a few weeks. As far as the first threat is concerned, there isn’t much to add to Erbani’s accurate analysis (just a question: when will he collect in a volume all his works on the state of the cities and the territory?). One might just want to consider, as well as the transformations that are taking place in the sector of residential buildings of Venice, the sector of retail trade and commercial businesses.

Even in this sector, the liberalisation brought about by Cacciari’s first administration has determined a break with the traditional policy of control of the transformations of the uses of ground floors, policy which had led previous administrations to resist for years to the opening of the first fast-food restaurant in Campo San Luca. More precisely, this has been possible thanks to the repeal of the municipal resolution which, applying the national law n.15/1987, was an instrument for the local authority to prevent the sprawl of fast-food restaurants and junk stores even more effectively than the land use plan.MoSE (Experimental Electromechanical Module) is a very “hard”, gigantic system of mobile barrage (even though it entails heavy permanent installations) of water in the three openings ( bocche di porto) that regulate the exchange of sea and brackish water. From this exchange does depend the environmental equilibrium: the equilibrium of the water, of the vegetation, of the fauna of the very precious lagoon of Venice. The function of the MoSE should be to automatically close the access of sea water when the sea threatens to exceed a certain level thus causing the flooding of inhabited areas.

It is not easy to understand why this system, which as been designed by a consortium of State contractors firms, should be judged by many of uncertain utility, harmful for the activity of the port (which is one of the main economic resources for the city) and devastating for the ecological equilibrium of the lagoon. To understand their reasons, it should be reminded that the equilibrium of the lagoon has depended for centuries on a daily and minute work of maintenance to manage its numerous natural elements (length and depth of the thousands of canals, characteristics of the vegetation, defence of the coastline, extension of the brackish basin, characteristics of the solid and liquid elements supplied by the rivers) which allow the preservation of the lagoon as it is. Only thanks to this control it has been possible to defend the lagoon from the two natural destinies it could face: to become a swamp and eventually mainland, if the solid supplies were to prevail, or to become an open bay, if the force of the sea was to prevail.

Only a modern systemic vision allows today to preserve that equilibrium, to which is strongly connected the solution of the issue of the exceptionally high tides ( acque alte). Acque alte which have become progressively more aggressive as a consequence of the (now ceased) utilization of underground waters for industrial purposes in Porto Marghera, of the reduction (caused by the successive filling ups and the formation of closed fisheries) of the area where the sea tide can spread out, of the gigantic increase in the section of the channels that bring the sea water (enlarged and deepened to allow the access to oil tankers), of the rise in the sea level (due to the global climatic events).

The dispute between the local political forces concerned about the environment and interested in a sustainable development, and those interested in grasping the chances of economic expansion linked to the public works lies entirely on the contrast of two different projects. Very schematically (I’ll present soon more documents and comments), the first project has as primary aim the re-equilibration of the complex system of the lagoon, by acting on the whole set of elements that compose it; the second project proposes an engineering-type system which is pharaonically expensive, of uncertain effectiveness, certainly harmful for the relevant elements of the ecosystem of the lagoon (and for its whole equilibrium) and entailing irreversible physical transformations.

In these days the second perspective has prevailed, thanks also to a tricky trap in which the local opposers (as reported by the local press) to the MoSE have fallen and to the forcing committed by its powerful supporters.

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