The damage caused at one chiringuito due to the severe storms. / SUR

The future of the beaches

We have to start realising that not all our sandy beaches, and the facilities on them, can be saved

IGNACIO LILLO

Journalists often have to play the part of Jiminy Cricket, the character who used to tell Pinocchio what he didn't want to hear. Just like him, those of us in this profession also have to explain what is happening and warn about what could be to come, whether our readers like it or not.

When it comes to storms and the beaches, mine is an unpopular opinion, so I'll make that clear now and then anyone who doesn't like it doesn't have to read any further, and will have better things to do today. Because what I see, after talking to numerous sources, is that we have to start realising that not all our sandy beaches, and the facilities on them, can be saved, apart from those that are more sheltered, wider, further from buildings, and bathymetrically prepared.

Since 1958, when statistical data began to be compiled, the buoy in Malaga port has only registered five episodes as severe as this one, but, coincidentally, we don't have to look back very far to find the worst of all: only to 20 April 2017, according to the Malaga Port Authority. So it was only five years ago, which is like saying yesterday, that the waves destroyed a lot of beaches and this is something that happens time and time again. Between then and now, although the sea has not been calm, waves have been high and have caused damage although to a lesser extent.

When you look at the causes many factors come to mind, such as high tides, sea swell or a sea wind, but it is an undeniable fact that the water level is rising and it gets closer to the buildings nearest to the beaches each time...dangerously close sometimes.

In view of this, councils and the tourism sector are calling loudly for protective breakwaters to be installed. It is true that these are necessary and useful elements in many places, and also true that the government is centuries behind the times in issuing environmental authorisations. When the projects are approved the processes need to be made very much easier, because a large part of the province's economy depends on the beaches.

But the breakwaters are not the solution because the waves are getting so high and, what is worse, so continuous that they go over the sea walls as we have just seen with this most recent episode. Worse still, in many parts of the Costa del Sol there is not enough sand to replace what has been lost. They are searching for underwater sand banks to excavate, and it would not be unreasonable to consider importing some sand from the Sahara, but that won't be easy and definitely won't be cheap.

The time has come when we need to start accepting that not all the beaches in Malaga can be saved.