TERRACINA, Italy – Famous for aquatic architectural anomalies such as Venice, Italy just learned how to revitalize Latina, its lauded but polluted bread basket and tourist haven. Latina, a province built on a marsh, is the world’s largest producer of kiwi. It is also one of Italy’s most contaminated sites, a New York Times article reports.
Just before World War II, Mussolini drained Latina’s Pontine wetlands — installing six gargantuan pumps. Currently, the pumps pull water from the area; the water is then routed through canals and dumped into the Mediterranean sea. The fabulous flow remains both a miracle and a misfortune.
When MIT landscape architecture professor Alan Berger studied the site recently, he found that water running from the mountains through the populated marshes has been collecting effluent from surrounding developments. Samples revealed a pollution level equal to that of a large pig farm.
His reaction, however, differed from preservation norms. “You can’t remove the economy and move the people away,” he admitted to the New York Times. “Ecologically speaking, you can’t restore it; you have to go forward, to set this place on a new path.”
Professor Berger’s Plan for Reclamation Excellence (P-Rex) program — already implementing solutions in mining wastelands such as those in Breckenridge, Colorado — would enable him to construct a new marsh on 500 acres of proposed government property in Italy. The new marsh would act as a filter for water pollution before the effluent reached the sea.
The Latina province represents a significant source of wealth for Italy — a tourist destination, an industrial hub, and an agricultural advantage. While going back to its original state seems impossible, Professor Berger suggests the inverse. “The solution has to be as artificial as the place,” he said. “We are trying to invent an ecosystem in the midst of an entirely engineered, polluted landscape.”
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Source: New York Times