Sand woes

CZMU warns mining depleting resources

Barbados is running out of sand for construction.

Director of the Coastal Zone Management Unit (CZMU) Dr Lorna Inniss has disclosed that in a decade, sand stock at places like Walker’s Sand Quarry, that are fed sand washed up from the sea, will be depleted.

And the CZMU is placing in its next five-year plan, a fencing project for the East Coast to retain more of the rock grains deposited onshore to cater for future use in Barbados’ construction industry and island protection.

 Inniss said the island had reached this state because of the practice of people taking sand from the coast.

 “On the East Coast, because of the extreme wind and the amount of sand that collects in the area, we have had sand dunes migrating inland as far as the Walker’s Sand Quarry. And then you get new sand dunes being born to the seaward side of those relic sand dunes . . . That has allowed us to use the relic sand dunes for construction,” she explained over the weekend during a CZMU outreach programme aimed at sensitizing Barbadians to the importance of protecting the beach.

 “Now the worry is that there will come a point within the next decade where we may run out of sand, and then we may be in the same position as a lot of the other small island developing states whose population have been focusing on beach sand.”

 “It is something that we’ve been thinking about and that we need to perhaps pay more attention to in the next five-year strategic plan of the CZMU than we have so far, because we knew it was going to run out.”

 She told a small gathering of boardwalk strollers that all was not lost as the unit would have to apply a mechanism to trap larger quantities of sand as it washed ashore.

A jogger stops to check the Coastal Zone Management Unit photo display of what the Hastings coastline looked like before construction of the Sir Richard Haynes Boardwalk.
A jogger stops to check the Coastal Zone Management Unit photo display of what the Hastings coastline looked like before construction of the Sir Richard Haynes Boardwalk.

 “One of the other tools in the arsenal of the coastal engineers is the ability to build sand dunes, using what we call sand fences. And this is something that we’ve tried in Barbados on the East Coast before and it has worked. It is like capturing all the sand faster than it would naturally to build a sand dune,” Inniss said.

 She said engineers would be working towards targeted amounts of the material that take into account quantities used as building material.

 “What I think we need to begin to work on is first establishing an inventory of the exact amount of sand that we have, and perhaps doing a projection into the future as to how much construction might be occurring in Barbados.

 “We need to come up with an estimate of how much sand we need in a particular decade – five years, whatever length of time we choose to do it. Then, based on that, we can begin making plans, and I believe those plans will be a part of the strategic plan of the CZMU to begin building new sand dunes in the area,”  Inniss added.

 She said one challenge would be reaching agreements with East Coast property owners because some of the relic sand dunes are on private property.

 Explaining that the problem of vanishing beach sand is not peculiar to Barbados, Inniss noted that small island developing states across the world have a problem finding sand for construction.

 She said the traditional practice of sand mining needs to stop.

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