News April, 15th 2010 by

San Pedro tunneling offers solution for area's damaged beaches

Washed out and eroded by this winter’s record storms, the beaches of San Pedro de Alcántara have seen better days. While the restoration work just before Easter has led to greater attention to coastal development in Marbella, the beaches of San Pedro de Alcántara have so far only received a whitewash.

Cortijo Blanco in better days - Will San Pedro tunnel sand help restore it?

The San Pedro coast suffers the scourge of storms more intensely than Marbella, and the storm in early March carried away 300,000 cubic metres of sand along with patches with pavement. Many areas in San Pedro have not received any repair since the storm.

Some of that sand is now available. Since Monday, maintenance crews have been accumulating large quantities on Cortijo Blanco Beach. Before the crews can distribute it, however, the sand is awaiting approval from the Malaga Provincial Coastal Demarcation Bureau, also known as ‘Costas’.

The sand originates in an unexpected place.  It is coming from down-town San Pedro – specifically, the tunnelling of highway A-7. More than 50 lorries have carried about 700 cubic metres of sand from the tunnel so far.

Environment Councillor Antonio Espada explained on Tuesday that OHL excavators have discovered a vein of unpolluted sandy material about eight metres deep. ‘It has a blond colour, but does not stain and is better than river sand’, the councillor said.

Not all the material coming out of the strip is usable as beach sand. The soil that is mixed in must first be removed in a sifting process. That soil then goes to the landfill, Espada explained, adding that no one knows yet how much sand will be obtained or how much will be usable.

A spokesperson for the town hall says that the city intends to help Cortijo Blanco Beach first because it is in the worst state. After that, the spokesperson said, Linda Vista Beach will follow.

Before any beach sand can be distributed, however, the coastal authority must give approval. That process began on Monday when the town hall submitted a proposal and description to the Ministry of Environment.

There is a chance that far less of the sand will be used than the city hopes. In its initial response to the proposal, the Coastal Demarcation Bureau has said the city should collect the sand on the beach for further analysis. Technicians will consider the quality of the sandy material extracted in San Pedro before approving its distribution along the beach.

Not all sand is suitable for the beach, experts say. Grains that are too large will be less comfortable or safe for beach-goers. Sand resulting from crushed rock may be too sharp or coarse.

There is, then, still a chance that the sand will end up in the landfill after all. 

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