- The Washington Times - Sunday, December 9, 2001

ROME Venice has approved after 17 years of debate and contention the construction of defenses to protect the lagoon from flooding.
The "Mose" project will cost about $1 billion and involves a movable dike being built at each of the lagoon's three mouths to the Adriatic.
Mose is an acronym of Modulo Sperimentale Elettromeccanico experimental electromechanical module and is also Italian for Moses.
The international scientific community widely considers the barriers the only hope of saving Venice from the flooding which has worsened over the years. But some environmentalists strongly oppose these defenses.
Each barrier comprises 79 flippers that can be raised or lowered like the flaps of an aircraft wing. They will be installed below water level and will be raised when the level rises by 31/2 a half feet, which happens about a dozen times a year.
Very high tides can have devastating consequences on the foundation of buildings and their interiors.
The decision by a commission of regional and national authorities, presided over by Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, reflects an abrupt change in public works policies in Rome.
Mr. Berlusconi's center-right coalition, voted in with an overwhelming majority in May, is now as concerned about launching ambitious public works projects as it is about being environmentally correct.
Several years ago, a center-left government overruled the project, arguing that it would have harmed the ecosystem of the lagoon by starving it of tidal movement and leaving it stagnant.
"After years of study, finally something is going to be done, beginning with the executive plan for the Mose," said Giancarlo Galan, the Veneto regional president. "I know that this is going to deal a blow to the manufacturers of [rubber] boots. It is impossible to go back to the conditions of the lagoon of the 19th century. We will do the Mose and try to use it as little as possible."

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