The waves beat without mercy the beaches of the coastal strip of Yucatan, in Southeast Mexico, pushing with force the particles of sand that promote the erosion process, and causing serious headaches to municipal authorities and summer house owners along the coast.
The sun witnesses silently the erosion of the beaches, which causes are divided into natural and anthropogenic, as explained by Eduardo Batllori Sampedro, secretary of Urban Development and Environment (Seduma) of the state of Yucatan.
“The natural causes follow a cycle of several decades featuring very dry years, very stable high pressure, where the sea throws sand to the beaches and these grow a lot”, says the doctor in Geographical Sciences from the University of Havana, Cuba.
“But from 1982 to date, a greater number of hurricanes and strong tropical storms have hit the Yucatan Peninsula due to climate change, promoting the erosion process”, he continued.
“The anthropogenic causes, have to do with the construction of breakwaters for docks, ports of shelter, spurs, houses on the first dune, urban development and deforestation of the coastal areas. The problem is serious and we are working on those two important factors,” he explained.
Batllori Sampedro, who has been the head of Seduma for 11 years, assured that during that period they have already invested more than 100 million pesos (5.5 million US dollars) in programs and projects for the restoration and conservation of beaches in Yucatan.
“Seduma has several ongoing projects linked to research centers, universities, specialized consultancies, municipalities and owners of summer properties in ports, such as Progreso, Chelem, Chuburna, Chicxulub, Uaymitún, San Crisanto, Chabihau, Santa Clara, Dzilam Bravo and Las Coloradas,” the official said.
Batllori Sampedro added that they are working hard to promote sand movement projects, beach restoration, removal of spurs, (which installation is illegal), and reforestation in coastal dunes.
“But we are facing a serious problem”, he said.
The Secretary of Urban Development and Environment explained that in order to combat the erosion of the beaches more than 150 spurs (installation of wooden stakes on the beach) have been removed, and more than 14,000 cubic meters of sand have been placed on different beaches along the Yucatecan coast.
Batllori Sampedro said that more than 100 owners of the summer homes are supporting the project of restoration and conservation of beaches, monitoring the erosion process and informing the authorities.
Now, he says they must work harder to move sand from one site to another, in order to reverse the negative impact of the docks, they must also have to raise awareness among the population so they know that the spurs are not a solution to the erosion problem, as they can generate more damage.
The official asked the owners of summer houses and municipal authorities not to remove vegetation, build behind the first dune, protect the vegetation that grows on that first dune, because that’s the only way to fight beach erosion.
Finally, Batllori Sampedro stressed the importance of handling solid and liquid waste properly, and added that carbonaceous waters within septic tanks can break the surface tension and loose the sand. And concluded saying that the problem of erosion is an endless struggle against nature.
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