The Italian city of Venice has spent ten years and over $7 billion trying to keep itself from drowning. Plagued by rising sea levels and a plunging national economy, the City of Water, which sank about 9 inches in the 20th century, has at times seemed guaranteed to become the next Atlantis.
But despite scandal, endless delays and the complications of coordinating the 50 different companies undertaking the massive project, four mobile flood barriers were successfully tested this weekend, AFP reports. It’s the first step in what will become a system of 78 barriers, spread over a mile across Venice’s three inlets.
They’re calling it Moses.
If all goes right, the project is expected to be completed by 2016 at the earliest. It’s unclear how much more it will cost, or whether it can truly stave off the floods. But it’s the city’s best hope — and as other coastal cities begin to recognize the risk they, too, face of ending up under water, it could be an idea that begins to catch on elsewhere.