Tuesday, July 23, 2024

SPTC prepares to restore eroded beaches in downtown San Pedro


To address the alarming rate beaches are eroding in San Pedro Town, the town council has partnered with local professionals and has worked on a plan to rescue over a mile of eroded beaches starting from the Boca del Rio beach park. The project will immediately tackle a section of the beach around the San Pedro High School (SPHS) area, which has eroded faster than anticipated. This area will serve as a demonstration site for the large-scale, long-term project to rescue the beach strip.
Local scientist and researcher Valentine Rosado explained that the demonstration project at Boca del Rio would see this portion of the beach strip filled with sand. This will give them an understanding of how the shoreline’s sediments move and where they go. Rosado said this would further inform the team of experts monitoring the process of beach reclamation. He explained that this is not a quick fix, and these initial works may not yield immediate results but will provide the missing pieces of the puzzle to adequately address the alarming threat to the island’s beaches.
The project’s first phase is also looking at restoring the function of the beach from Boca del Rio to the Sunbreeze Hotel point. Rosado and Mayor Gualberto ‘Wally’ Nuñez stated that they have been discussing the plan with stakeholders along the Boca del Rio beach strip and how they can be involved. To curb the erosion pattern, the beach reclamation project will see the creation of beach areas along the shoreline, eliminating any obstacles that can disturb the movement of sediments. Currently, the shoreline along downtown San Pedro appears jagged due to the different constructions on the beach. Some of these include seawalls, one of the causes of erosion besides climate change. These structures on the shore disrupt the flow of sediments. Rosado said that if the plan goes well and the flow of sediments can follow a natural straight line, erosion could significantly reduce. However, the moment something like a structure obstructs this natural sedimentation process (beach creation) erosion starts to occur.
To maintain a healthy beachfront, beautifying the shoreline will be necessary by planting native plants such as certain types of mangroves and other types of local vegetation to help further prevent any disturbance on the beach area. Rosado added that there will still be the need for seasonal beach nourishment to protect the beach berms. Berms (a flat strip of land, raised bank, or terrace bordering a river or canal) are important as they prevent off-site sedimentation by diverting runoff to a sediment trapping area or device.
This first test at the Boca del Rio area by the SPHS will be financed by the San Pedro Town Council (SPTC). Afterward, a pilot project will encompass the entire beach stretch. To get this done, the SPTC hopes to partner with stakeholders operating on the said beach strip.
After gathering enough scientific information and proving the plan’s efficiency, the ultimate goal is to seek further funds from the Green Climate Fund. Rosado said that there is a long process to access such funds; thus, they continue doing the necessary research to get the scientific information to support this critical task for the benefit of all island residents.

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