A RADICAL alternative scheme to protect Venice from almost daily flooding has been put forward to the city's mayor and to the Venice in Peril fund, it emerged this week.
The proposal, developed by mechanical engineer and inventor, the late Reuel van Millingen, is to build a simple dyke around the island of Venice, and create a fully enclosed 60km 2area.
Existing plans to protect the historic city from floods caused by increasing high tides involve construction of buoyant barriers across the inlets connecting Venice lagoon with the Adriatic Sea (NCE 27 July 2000).
Backed by Italy's Ministry of Public Works and Consorzio Venezia Nuova, a contracting consortium including Italian firms Impregilo, Recchi, Grandi Lavori, Mazzi and Saipem, the plan is nearly 30 years old.
But in plans completed before his death last year, van Millingen claimed that the current proposals do not account for rising sea levels and increases in flooding - a view endorsed this week by Venice in Peril president Lady Francis Clarke.
By contrast, van Millingen's scheme, being championed by family and close friends, claims to protect against both low level and exceptional flooding.
With just one lock connecting the enclosed area with the lagoon, gates could be quickly closed whenever water levels rose above acceptable levels.
Water levels inside the dyke could be further controlled by pumping.
Van Millingen's solution would also present less obstruction to ships serving busy industrial ports within the lagoon south of Venice, which, under current plans, would be unable to enter the lagoon at high tide.
A decision on whether the existing barrier scheme will be built is expected after this year's Italian general election.