Italy: Venice Canals Run Dry Amid Drought Concerns

    Italy: Venice Canals Run Dry Amid Drought Concerns
    Last updated Feb 21, 2023
    Image credit: Reuters [via The Guardian]


    • On Monday, Italy's Legambiente environmental organization warned that the country's lakes and rivers are facing an extreme lack of water amid growing concerns over another drought, with Venice experiencing unusually low tides after weeks of dry winter weather.
    • With the Alps having received less than 50% of the normal amount of snowfall — along with a lack of rain, a full moon, sea currents, and a high-pressure environment — Venice's canal water levels have fallen so low that gondolas, water taxis, and ambulances face significant navigation challenges.
    • This past weekend, the water levels slumped to 65 cm below average — past the minimum mark of 60 cm when navigating the canals becomes dangerous.
    • The conditions are a drastic change as Venice typically faces concerns over intense flooding, with the city's worst tidal surge in more than 50 years occurring in 2019, causing more than $1.1B in damage. This saw the development of MOSE, an anti-flooding project meant to protect the city from tidal surges due to be completed by the end of 2023.
    • Legambiente also reported low levels in the Po River — which delivers water to northern Italy — with it receiving 61% less water than usual at this time of year.
    • This follows Italy's worst drought in 70 years last summer, which saw the country declare a state of emergency in the regions surrounding Po.


    Narrative A

    Despite being currently afflicted with drought, in the long-term, Venice — which evidently faces a host of challenges at the hands of climate change — is most notably threatened by floods. With the possibility of Venice sinking beneath the water as early as 2100, Italy has taken action to save its prized city by enacting the Mose project, which will install 78 automated gates to protect the city from storm surges. Once complete, this will be one of the first mechanisms to aid Venetians in their centuries-long battle against inundation.

    Narrative B

    Venice isn't only at risk of being inundated by water but also by millions of tourists who show little appreciation or respect for the city's beauty. Even when the city is overrun with floodwaters, elevated dry paths are constructed for their continued enjoyment while generations of residents face losing their homes. Venetians are battling climate change to preserve their way of life while tourists roam the city looking for a good time.

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