A group of engineers and geology experts are considering injecting sea water under Venice to raise the waterlogged Italian city by 12 inches to rescue it from the tides and floods that bedevil it, an article by the Associated Press reports.

"The main advantage of this project is that it would allow Venice to regain ... nearly the same amount of centimeters by which it sank over the last 300 years," says Giuseppe Gambolati, head of the project.

The $117-million project entails drilling 12 holes with an 11-inch diameter within a 6-mile area around the city of Venice, and to pump sea water into the ground at a depth of 766 yards, says Gambolati, an engineer and professor at the University of Padua.

The sea water is expected to make the sand that lies underneath expand, which, combined with a topping of waterproof clay, would eventually push up the soil, Gambolati says.

Gambolati explains the experts were first planning to test the project on a small area. "If the pilot-project proves successful, we will see an immediate benefit, even though gradual, while the complete elevation will be achieved in around 10 years," he notes.

The project still is in its initial phase and it will have to be discussed and evaluated by various city, regional and state commissions before being approved.

Venice is threatened by water on several fronts. The city is sinking while the level of the Adriatic sea is rising and high tides are becoming more frequent, flooding into famed St. Mark's Square and prompting officials to set up raised plank walkways.

Giovanni Mazzacurati, the president of the New Venice Consortium, the agency overseeing the project, says careful testing on the new plan will be needed to verify its most critical point - the evenness of the elevation.

"Venice is in a delicate situation, its structure is very fragile," he explains. "Should parts of it be elevated in a different way, this would cause the city to crumble."

Gambolati says that, according to his preliminary studies, the project is not expected to affect Venice's stability.

Source: Associated Press