Venice’s Famed Canals Are Beginning to Dry Up

It's just one of the many issues plaguing the Italian city

small venice canal with pink buildings on either side
You may want to hold off on planning a trip here anytime soon.

Venice is more delicate than other cities, so, like the caged canary in the mine, whose sensitivity warns miners of poison gas, its fate may be a warning for us all,” Neal Robbins’s wrote inVenice, an Odyssey: Hope, Anger and the Future of Cities .

It’s a sentiment that feels particularly ominous when considering that residency in Venice has decreased by nearly 70% since 1950, or that climate change has resulted in rising sea levels, creating frequent flooding and erosion of the lagoon. Or, most recently, that the canals for which the city has become synonymous are drying up.

Per a new report from the Associated Press, because of a prolonged spell of low tides, many of the Floating City’s smaller canals are all but dried up, putting a strain on many areas of everyday life. For the uninitiated, Venice’s canals serve as the primary means of transportation — dry canals mean that water taxis, gondolas and, most alarmingly, ambulance boats who rely on the canals are unable to access whole areas of the city.

“Ambulance boats in some cases have had to tie up farther from their destination, forcing medical crews to sometimes hand carry stretchers over long distances since their vessels can’t progress up canals reduced to a trickle of water and muck,” the report reads.

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According to environmental scientist and sustainable development analyst Jane Da Mosto,”high atmospheric pressure combined with the lunar cycle produces the ultra-low water levels during ebb tide” this time of year. The “overdue need for cleaning Venice’s inner canal network” is also likely to blame, as well as the lack of Alpine snow melt — an issue all over northern Italy.

In short, if you’re thinking of taking a trip to Venice in the not-too-distant future, you may want to hold off — and, if Venice truly is the world writ small, contemplate our imminent end.


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