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Negril chamber wants alternative to breakwater project

Monday, March 23, 2015 | 9:49 AM    

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KINGSTON, Jamaica — The Negril Chamber of Commerce says the Government should consider an alternative to building a breakwater to resolve beach erosion issues in the Westmoreland resort town.

The chamber, which has long been in opposition to the project, in a release today, pointed to the “world renowned case of breakwater failure in Sri Lanka” as one of the reasons why Government should not proceed with the project.

According to the release, the Unawatuna Beach in Sri Lanka, named the World’s Best Beach in 2004, is fast disappearing today because of the breakwater that was built by Sri Lanka’s Coast Conservation Department.

“… The once flawless crescent of sand that swept along a palm-lined shore with turquoise waters is now blanketed with jagged rocks. The Unawatuna beach spans nearly 1 1/2 kilometres and has attracted both the local and foreign tourists for over half a century,” the release said.

It said that the Sri Lanka breakwater, which stretches nearly a kilometre into the ocean, has disturbed the natural balance of the eco-system and is washing away the sand from one half of the beach, and depositing it on the other half.

The structure, the chamber said, is similar to the US multi-million dollar project being proposed for Negril by the Jamaican Government.

The Government of Sri Lanka, said the Negril chamber, is now working to partially remove the breakwater in order to rectify the situation and has resorted to beach nourishment with 300,000 metric cubic metres of sand being pumped from the middle of the ocean in order to recreate the beach.

It also argued that other regions with breakwaters such as California, New Jersey and North Carolina are still trying to figure out how to get remove them.

Instead of building a breakwater, the organisation suggests that “beach nourishment is the best solution for Negril as it is a soft non-intrusive procedure that would require only 4-8 weeks to achieve”. 

The organisation said marine and coastal engineers recommended this solution for Negril but the National Environment and Planning Agency has shown no interest.

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