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Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Barriers on the beach to fight erosion may be doing more harm than good

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Carlos Rosado van der Gracht
Born in Mérida, Carlos Rosado van der Gracht is a Mexican/Canadian blogger, photographer and adventure expedition leader. He holds degrees in multimedia, philosophy and translation from universities in Mexico, Canada and Norway. Sign up for the Yucatán Roundup, a free newsletter, which delivers the week's top headlines every Monday.
Beach homes are particularly vulnerable to the effects of erosion, storms, and rising sea levels. Photo: Courtesy

Barriers installed on the beach to protect homes from erosion are causing problems for some homeowners.

Residents living on the beach in Telchac complain that the barriers are redirecting the flow of the tide, and have resulted in an almost complete loss of beachfront for up to 40 homes. 

Homeowners in the affected area have begun to place barriers of their own to fight against the encroaching tide, but acknowledge that the sandbags are a temporary solution at best. 

The retreating sand has even exposed the foundations of some properties, critically weakening their structural integrity.

Erosion has hit some beach communities harder than others, but the problem can be seen almost everywhere on Yucatán’s coast. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht

Geologists say that beach erosion in Telchac is the result of unsustainable practices along Yucatán’s coast, especially when it comes to the construction of docks and poorly planned roads. 

Beach erosion is also a problem for sea turtles who use the sandy shores as nesting grounds.

Earlier: Residents take action to clear La Plancha of garbage

The problem of erosion in Telchac’s beaches is nothing new. In 2019, state authorities invested 14 million pesos to restore beaches in the area. 

Some of the solutions attempted by the government include the relocation of large amounts of sand and the placement of hundreds of meters of fixed pipe.

Although at first these efforts seemed successful, their effects were only temporary as storms have since undone any gains. 

The problem is also worsened by the destruction of coastal ecosystems such as wetlands and mangroves, that combat the effects of erosion. These ecosystems are also important in that they protect the coastline from tropical storms and hurricanes.

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