At a press conference on July 13, Mexican Minister of Tourism Rodolfo Elizondo Torres and Quintana Roo State Governor Felix Gonzalez Canto announced that plans to restore the beaches in Cancun, Riviera Maya and Cozumel would go ahead this year. Our earlier report mentioned that the work will be carried out by Mexicana de Dragados S.A. de C.V. and coordinated by the Mexican Electricity Board or CFE. Gustavo Arvizu Lara, Civil Engineering Manager for the CFE gave more details about the project.
Mr. Arvizu said that as of July 15, Mexicana de Dragados S.A. de C.V. will begin to move its dredgers and equipment into the Mexican Caribbean. Almost seven million cubic meters of sand will be dredged from sand banks lying in deeper waters offshore, one of which is located to the north of Cozumel, and transferred to the beaches affected by erosion in Cancun, Playa del Carmen and Cozumel. The amount of sand required for this project represents between six and seven per cent of the total volume of the said sand banks and experts are confident that they will be replenished by natural marine sedimentation processes.
According to the project timeline, sand will be pumped on to the Cancun beaches starting September 1 and should be completed by November 30. The project also calls for the construction of offshore barriers in several places along the coast and this will take place between September 15 and November 15. Work should be finished by December 13, weather permitting.
Planning for this extremely important program has been meticulous and the Mexican authorities spent months studying the affected shoreline, discussing the lessons learned from the first Cancun beach restoration in 2006, comparing coastal protection initiatives elsewhere in the world and analyzing proposals before coming to a decision. During every stage of the project, work will be carefully monitored by engineers, oceanographers and environmentalists. Scientists will be measuring wave action, tides, currents, beach profile and erosion in order to calculate the average rate of sediment transport, a key factor to take into account for the following 10-year maintenance period.