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File photo of work to redistribute sand on a beach on the east side of Malaga city centre. SUR
Largest ever amount of sand to be added to Costa del Sol beaches to control erosion
Infrastructure

Largest ever amount of sand to be added to Costa del Sol beaches to control erosion

The Spanish government is to invest more than two million euros in a project that will take sand from river beds, quarries and ports to replenish beaches

Chus Heredia

MALAGA.

Friday, 26 April 2024, 12:15

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Beaches along the entire Costa del Sol - from Nerja to Manilva - will benefit from new sand as well as upgrades to old pipes, walls and breakwaters under a new two-million-euro improvement plan. Central government has unveiled the plan which is the largest investment to improve Malaga beaches in decades, apart from emergency works after storms.

The Malaga province coastline is receding, mainly due to a lack of silt from rivers topping up beaches. When river flows are restricted (for example, by building reservoirs) or channelled for irrigation, the sediment load decreases. This, combined with the development of housing, has meant that government action was needed; now two large contracts for the work - one for the eastern and the other for the western coast - have been awarded.

The contractor for both is Hermanos Pérez Garrán, based in Alhaurín de la Torre, a firm that also specialises in maintenance of watercourses and streams and in excavations. The contract is valued at just over two million euros, with a completion period of six months. The double contract has been a long time coming, being in the pipeline since at least March last year.

Once the agreement is signed, some work will start before summer, while other projects will be postponed, so as not to interfere with the peak tourist season.

According to the plans, there will be work along the entire coastline, which covers some 169 kilometres and 14 municipalities (Nerja, Torrox, Algarrobo, Vélez-Málaga, Rincón de la Victoria, Malaga, Torremolinos, Benalmádena, Fuengirola, Mijas, Marbella, Estepona, Manilva and Casares). Work will involve top-ups of new sand; demolition of old structures such as pipes, walls or breakwaters; dune regeneration; gathering top-up sand from rivers and other places such as quarries or harbour channels.

The project is promoted by the environment ministry and has EU funding.

Malaga city and Axarquía

The contract for the eastern coast, for which eight companies competed, has a budget of 801,831 euros and will cover the beaches of Malaga city. Among the possible places to collect new sand in this eastern area are the Benamargosa river, the Íberos stream (Cajiz) and the mouths of the Guadalhorce, Torrox, Chíllar and Vélez rivers. The other sources of top-ups will be from balancing up parts of beaches which have too much sand with others with a shortage, or from inlets such as the port of El Candado.

The beaches where work is expected to happen are El Palo, Pedregalejo, Algarrobo, Candado, Malagueta, Playazo, Torrecilla, Rincón, Elimar, Valle-Niza, Benajarafe, Ferrara, Chucho, Guadalmar, Llanos, Ferrara, El Morche, Benagalbón, Los Rubios, Torre del Mar and Chilches.

The other contract, covering the western Costa between Torremolinos and Manilva, which had seven bidders, is valued at 1.28 million euros. The government has listed possible sources of sand in this area as the river in Fuengirola; the Guadalmina river in Marbella; in Estepona, the Velerín, Castor, Padrón, Guadalmansa or the Abejeras streams; in Mijas, the area of Entrerríos. The port of Benalmádena is another possible source.

Among the beaches where work is expected are El Bombo, Cala Mijas, Cabopino, Las Chapas, Santa Ana, Cable, Pinillo, Guadalmina, La Rada, San Pedro, Castillo, Sabinillas, Playamar, Bajondillo, Malapesquera and Manilva.

The western contract also includes the demolition of structures which surface from time to time during winter storms. There is also dune and riverbank regeneration, cleaning and clearing, removal of asbestos pipes and environmental quality controls.

Sand will be sieved

All the sand will be sieved and the sand added from river beds and streams as well as from quarries and ports will have the right grain size for the conditions of the beaches. Both projects have been drafted by Jesús Santos and directed by Manuel Béjar and were technically approved in January 2023.

This is a different plan from the annual work to deal with storm emergencies, which involved an investment of 2.2 and 1.3 million euros respectively over the past two financial years.

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