Venice’s Canals are Running out of Water; Is this the End of the Iconic Touristic Spot?

Worrying images show how tourists are unable to navigate the famous canals in Venice.

Gabriela Castillo

Some worrying images that have gone viral around social media show that the famous canals of Venice have run out of water a situation that is obviously concerning to the locals due to the impact it could have on tourism and their daily lives.

The prolonged low tide that has been occurring in Venice in recent days has caused these water scarcity problems. Therefore, something that has surprised tourists, it is almost impossible to navigate through some of the canals, and many of the gondolas are stranded in the mud.

The situation became more widely known worldwide due to the number of journalists who captured the phenomenon during the famous Venice Carnival, which took place from February 4 to 21. In recent days, the Tide Forecasting Center of Venice has reported that the tide level has dropped to between minus 55 and minus 60 centimeters. That’s why the images were very striking, especially during the picturesque and historic Carnival.

Venice - venice’s canals are running out of water; is this the end of the iconic touristic spot?

Why Is There No Water in the Famous Canals of Venice?

The absence of water is a fairly typical phenomenon in the lagoon at the beginning of the year, but it is lasting a bit longer than usual in 2023 due to a combination of factors, including the lack of rainfall affecting the entire region and country. “The anticyclonic drought with high pressure does not allow the water to rise. In addition, the currents coming from the north prevent the development of tides in the Adriatic. Among other things, there was also a full moon, where the highs are higher, and the lows are lower,” said the head of the tide center, Alvise Papa, to the newspaper Corriere della Sera.

The expert pointed out that while it is usually “concerned about the arrival of the high tide, in this case, attention is focused on the opposite phenomenon, precisely due to the astronomical minimum with a sea level well below average.” All of this, in addition to detracting from the beauty of the “City of Canals,” is causing significant problems for the population, as navigation is impossible in many areas, making it difficult to reach homes in case of an emergency.

“We are facing difficulties due to an environmental situation that makes the management of rescue operations in the lagoon even more complex,” said Paolo Rosi, the head of the emergency service in Venice. “Our operators are often forced to stop their vehicles at a certain distance from the destination and continue on foot, in many cases with a patient who needs to be carried in their arms,” he added regarding a problem that firefighters and police also face.

The minimum tide threshold, minus 60 centimeters, beyond which navigation is no longer safe, also applies to public transportation, which requires a plan for dividing and redirecting lines that is very similar to that of high tide. In addition, dozens of dead fish have appeared in the canals in recent days, according to local media, something that, according to some experts, could be due to the low temperatures of these days and the low tide, but not all support this hypothesis.

Story written in Spanish by Miguel Fernández in Cultura Colectiva News.