Venice Minus Water

Jan 2, 2017 14 comments

For the second year in a row, low tides in Venice have sunk to such record levels that it has left the city almost entirely without water. Visitors who came to the city expecting to ride gondolas through the city’s famous blue-green canals have found their plans foiled, as without water many of the city’s primary transport have been left grounded on the canals’ muddy beds.

The exceptionally low water levels have been caused by abnormal tides this year, combined with drastically reduced rainfall across northeastern Italy. Although low tides are common around this time of the year, this year the water levels have gone down some 70 cm below average. The phenomenon is surprising given that Venice is slowly sinking and floods are a more common feature of the city today than low tides.


The low water levels have exposed the city’s filth. Years of poor maintenance on the city's waterways is showing through the buildup of large banks of mud and silt around the canals' edges, drastically reducing the canals’ depth and increasing the likelihood of propellers snagging on floating junk. The lower than normal water levels have also exposed the crumbling brickwork at the base of historic buildings.

Venetian authorities have always shown a lackadaisical attitude when it came to canal maintenance. Dredging of the canals first started in recent times in the late 1990s, after almost half-a-century of neglect. The city also lacks a modern sewage system. Historically, all waste produced by humans have been dumped into the canals although larger buildings are required to carry some kind of sewage treatment before dumping the filthy stuff into the canals. Some palazzos have their own septic tanks but there is always a certain amount of leakage, lending Venice its characteristic and at times overpowering stench.

In recent years, Venice city council has been spending less and less on canal maintenance, diverting the funds instead towards the completion of the €5.4 billion MOSE tide gates that will protect the Venetian lagoon from the frequent flood tides that has been plaguing the city. For fifty years through 1970s, industries in the area recklessly pumped ground water from underground aquifers and the city slumped by some 9 inches. The sinking has subsided significantly in the past few decades, but it's still sinking at the rate of 1-2mm per year. Under these circumstances, drying up of the city’s canals is most unusual.











via, Daily Mail


  1. I find it utterly amazing that a city which is known historically for it's waterways, its reliance on this peculiar form of transportation and the huge impact on their tourism refuses to take an active role in the maintenance of their canals. Simplistically it's counterproductive, realistically it's stupid. Even the French take time out to clean their sewers every 50 years or so with the big wooden balls.

  2. "Even the French" ?!

  3. Not even the fabled "melting sea ice" will save them?

    1. Yes. Fabled as in "fake"

    2. Moron...if you've ever spent any time at all in the polar regions you'd see how dramatically the ice shelves have receded.

    3. If you've ever spent any time at all in the polar regions you'd see how dramatically the ice shelves have receded.

    4. Moron. I live in the polar regions so STFU

    5. Increases and decreases in polar ice are normal. Sometimes there is an increase that goes on for over a decade, then a decrease that lasts for years. It's totally normal.

    6. Don't feed the trolls!

  4. This is their chance to make repairs, shore up foundations, clear canals -- but will they do it?

  5. why don't they get rid of all that crap that is in their water ways because in a few year those canals will be full of rubbish and when the water comes back all that rubbish will go out to sea and kill the precious animals some of which are being cruelly treated because of our stupidity. we as humans need to make a change!

  6. For a city population of 250K, it’s quite a feat to cycle 20-30M tourists a year. As a World Heritage Site, I imagine they have hefty funding from numerous resources and foundations on top of the money raised in tourism. The civil engineers and municipality must rack their brains to keep the city up and running with limited disruptions like these. One minute it’s flooding then bone dry, buildings sinking, permits, crime, pollution, unique public transport, logistics, health... Everything is 10X harder on a floating city I imagine. Thanks for sharing.


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