Negril breakwaters won't achieve goal
THE EDITOR, Sir:
The Negril Chamber of Commerce would like to respond to the comments made by Dr Wykeham McNeill with regard to the breakwater project. While all projects will result in disruption of the day-to-day functions of any community, regardless of the extent of the disruption, the member of parliament has still not addressed the real issue at hand.
What will the building of breakwaters achieve, and if they do not function as expected by the consultants, who will be held responsible? How will we get rid of these massive structures, and what irreparable damage will be done to our struggling coral reef, shoreline and ecosystems?
Our neighbour Cuba is opening its doors to visitors from the United States. They are utilising beach nourishment and coral reef restoration to keep their beaches pristine. Why should Jamaica go the route of the most disruptive, expensive, irreversible, and environmentally unfriendly option to save our beach?
The Negril Chamber of Commerce (NCC) is inviting National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA) officials and the MP to visit Negril now and actually walk the beach, and see that it is the widest it has been in many years. There has been significant accretion and the hot spots for erosion are now not readily identified. So to continue crying wolf and telling people that the beach is disappearing, in an effort to force the breakwater project on the community, is disingenuous.
The NCC spoke with Dr David Smith, a leading coastal engineer who carried out preliminary studies in 2007 and 2009 in Negril. After seeing the attached picture of this well-known erosion spot in Negril, taken on April 5, 2015, he had this to say about breakwaters:
"They should only be there to reduce storm-wave energy and increase the residence time of the sand on the beach through the seasons. They should NOT be there to attract sand, as that would take away from somewhere else. Of course, the system can work without breakwaters, but the beach will go through cycles of erosion. Sand nourishment is also another option, but that may have to be done periodically."
The community has asked for beach nourishment, as it will buy the time to correct the wrongs that have aided and abetted the natural erosion that occurs on all beaches. These solutions include restoration and rehydrating the morass, addressing the water-quality issues, enforcing the Marine Park and fish sanctuary, enforcement of the 150-foot setback from the high-tide mark, replanting of natural vegetation on the beach, and coral restoration work.
Possibly the MP will listen to the voices and countless concerns of the numerous people and groups who have vetoed this project. He should not hope for their acquiescence to building breakwaters, based solely on pie-in-the-sky assurances from NEPA and the National Works Agency.
1st Vice-President &
Negril Chamber of Commerce