Where did the sand go from Almeria beaches?

SAND has disappeared from 3 million square metres of Almeria Province’s beaches in the last 50 years, mainly due to intensive agriculture and building, found Almeria University investigators. Costly beach regeneration schemes had returned 5 million cubic metres of sand to Almeria’s beaches but 15 million more were needed, said Alfonso Viciana Martinez-Lage, author of Coastal Erosion in Almeria and one of the investigating team.

“Sand is expensive and, besides, there isn’t enough,” the academic claimed.

Considerable damage had been done to the beaches and dune systems like Punto Entinas-Sabinal, he warned, because sea-front buildings formed barriers preventing the air-flow between land and sea which had always been an important source of natural sand.

Almeria’s beaches were also being engulfed by the sea because they no longer received sediment from rivers and streams now dammed for reservoirs like the Cuevas de Almanzora and Rio Adra reservoirs which had cut this source by 90 per cent.

“Reservoirs are necessary but have their consequences,” said Viciana Martinez-Lage, who also singled out artificial dykes, breakwaters and harbours for interfering with the natural distribution of sand.

“You only have to look at Adra, Almerimar or Garrucha where tourist beaches need constant supplies of sand,” he declared.

Agriculture was another culprit, according to the Instituto de Estudios Almerienses.  The demands of fruit and vegetable growers were responsible for removing 20 million cubic metres of subsoil from dunes and beaches since 1957 for use in polytunnels and greenhouses, to the detriment of the province’s beaches.



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