Future of Boggy Sand Beach in jeopardy

| 27/08/2019 | 70 Comments
Cayman News Service
Boggy Sand Beach is disappearing

(CNS): The shifting sand on one of West Bay’s most famous beaches has caused considerable public concern this summer as large parts of it disappeared. Beaches are dynamic, with sand coming and going depending on the time of year and seasonal weather conditions, but the recent disappearance of a swathe of Boggy Sand Beach has raised the alarm. While some sand has begun to return in recent days, the beach is nowhere near its usual glory and experts believe the beach is still in jeopardy.

Tim Austin, the deputy director of the Department of Environment, said there is mounting concern about sea level rise here and the impact that this will have on coastal development. “It appears to be happening quite rapidly,” Austin told CNS, as he raised concerns about the continued over-development along the coast and the frequent violation of setbacks in planning applications.

Boggy Sand is one of the more vulnerable locations, he said, explaining that while the sand comes and goes, every year the ‘coming’ appears to be decreasing as the ‘going’ is increasing. The DoE believes there is growing evidence that weather patterns and storms, such as Nor’westers, are not as frequent or as powerful as they once were in the winter and they are bringing less sand back after the summer erosion.

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The coastal development along Boggy Sand especially, given the size of some of the homes that have been built too close to the water, has contributed to the problems along this popular and much loved part of West Bay. However, the DoE experts agree that the combination of the seawall and a gazebo built at the water’s edge are the main sources of the problem on the area of beach impacted this year.

Austin explained, “The impact of sea walls isn’t always immediate. The erosion can happen over the long term, or sometimes a specific weather event can reveal the problems caused by a wall.”

In the case of Boggy Sand, he pondered whether the wall was ever really necessary. But now the question is what would happen if the wall were removed, given that the development in the area has removed all of the vegetation that would have acted as a natural barrier.

DoE Director Gina Ebanks-Petrie said the situation at Boggy Sand was a lesson when it comes to development and planning, but she is worried that it was another lesson that no one learned. The situation remained a problem and resolving it was not simple, she told CNS. Government will need to engage a specialist coastal works engineer to see what could be done about the wall and the gazebo, but there are no easy solutions, she said.

She, too, noted concerns about the changing climate and environmental conditions that appear to be fuelling beach erosion, as well as the increasing sea levels, which are going to get much worse.

The disappearance of Boggy Sand for several weeks this summer has, however, contributed to the growing awareness of the detrimental impact that the rapid coastal development on Grand Cayman is now having and is seeing more people air their concern.

The fact that government had finally erected stairs in the area to make it easier to access the beach also caused some red faces. Soon after they were installed, the stairs were floating in mid-air, high above the sea lapping at the wall as a result of the missing sand.

Activists in the community, part of a growing number of green movements such as Plastic Free Cayman and Protect Our Future, are urging people to lobby their MLAs about climate change and the impact on Cayman, as the situation on Boggy Sand Beach is one of a growing number of environmental challenges Cayman now faces.

They are encouraging voters in particular to lobby their representatives to push government into introducing sustainable policies to help protect the coastline of the Cayman Islands and to make legislative changes to prevent the continued waiver of setback requirements and dramatically increase them in the first place for oceanfront projects.

See images of the loss of sand at the Boggy Sand Beach below:

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Category: Land Habitat, Science & Nature

Comments (70)

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    • Ron Ebanks says:

      I believe that what is needed to resolve the beach erosion issue is to remove the cabana and the seawall back to the straight line of the rest of the wall , and that might not work because I have to believe all of the seawall too close to the water which is causing too much back wash from the wall .
      That is my opinion on the beach erosion and the sand will never stay on the beach like before .

      How to fix after the Cabana and seawall is removed fill the area with sand and plant sea oats grass and seagrape trees at the line of the seawall and water the plants and watch the beach come back .

  1. Anonymous says:

    Let’s go out to cayman because it’s in the plan
    Sleep beside the locals in the shifting sand
    We’ll look at some turtles and check out some heads
    Oh, we’ll whip out our mattress ’cause there ain’t no beds

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  2. Rick says:

    Will someone please point to the evidence here in Cayman that there is sea level rise? This assumption keeps getting repeated in every climate related news item but I cannot find any evidence of this where ever I go in GCM. And, why do we attribute idiotic human behaviour to climate change? Was it the climate that caused us to build a wall where the surf rules? That area has been changing for eons whenever the weather changes. It would have been a miracle if the sand did not disappear after the monstrosity that was built there, called a ‘sea wall’. The better name would be “Fool’s Wall”.

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    • Anonymous says:

      No sea level rise. Water like most things in life need and will find/seek BALANCE.

      ‘They’ altered the shoreline. As a result, the water is simply running around to the side and taking away ‘their’ beach!

      Have a look at the marvelous photos of the ‘real estate’ for sale. Sad times. Icing on the cake is that ‘they’ then built another, right on the beach this time, in front of the old Corita’s Copper Kettle/Sand Dollars/Alfresco’s restaurant as some may know West Bay Public Beach (Not seven mile).

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    • Anonymous says:

      Rick, The evidence is clear. Look at pictures of the beach in front of the Marriott and Plantation Village 10 years ago and look at now. The people who own condos in that area will tell you that the sea level is rising because the beaches have disappeared.
      The value of their property has not increased as a result of losing Beach.

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  3. Caymanian says:

    Ok, so now let us dredge up 27 acres of GT Harbor and then pour hundreds of tons of concrete and steel into the resulting hole, permanently disrupting the natural wave action that runs along the entire west coast of the island! No way that could possibly result in even MORE beach erosion along the entire western coastline, could it?

    Hey all you wealthy condo owners along Seven Mile Beach! Could you please use your influence to stop our idiot politicians from destroying your oceanfront property forever? Clearly, you’ll have better luck convincing these greedy morons that the proposed cruise port is a bad idea. They don’t listen to their own people, so maybe they’ll listen to you.

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    • Anonymous says:

      if you looked at the cruise port plans, you’d see its not a solid pier, its on stilts to enable near total passthru of the sea…but dont let facts get in the way

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  4. Anonymous says:

    wait till they! destroy Hog Sty Bay et al

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    • Chris Johnson says:

      I am not sure if this is the wall built by Government when the road was falling into the beach but it could be. At that time planning did not need approve government projects.
      In certain parts of the world sea walls are curved to take the energy out of the wave motion which results in less erosion. Being a mere bookkeeper I know little of the subject but I think all would welcome a serious opinion on the subject by an expert.

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  5. Anonymous says:

    This should ring alarm bells with regards to the proposed new port and the effects it could have on SMB. We could lose the whole of SMB due to erosion and if the sand goes so do the tourists.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Hi CNS – wrong place but could you provide an update on the hurricane likely to affect Florida? And Cayman Airways plan? A few students are concerned Thanks

      CNS: We will do an update, including checking with CAL. In the meantime, here’s an update from the Weather Channel.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Wrong 1.31. No comparison. The piers will have no effect on wave action along Seven Mile Beach.

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      • Anonymous says:

        Can the government guarantee that there will be no effect on wave action and no beach erosion as a result of the new cruise port? Can the government guarantee that the sediment and silt resulting from months of dredging and further months of driving pilons into the seabed will not settle on coral formations along the western coastline, killing off coral structures and destroying our thriving dive industry as a result? Can the government guarantee that the earth that will be dredged out of GT harbor will not follow the wave action up the coastline, settling on Seven Mile Beach and altering the pristine white sand that we currently enjoy? If the government cannot make these guarantees, then why run the risk of destroying our natural beauty, just so tourists can walk from cruise ship to shore, without the aid of tender boats? Why run the risk of destroying our natural beauty, so a few more retail jobs can be created, jobs which will not go to Caymanians anyway? Why sell out our Caymanian heritage for a few more cruise dollars in the pockets of a few already wealthy people?

  6. BeaumontZodecloun says:

    What we are talking about here is shifting beach/sand and erosion, not rising seas. Take a look at the photos and note the high water marked stamped over the years on the timbres and concrete. It’s not the only place on the island where beaches come and go depending upon the tides, current and other variables.

    I would guess there is a reason it is named ‘Boggy Sand Beach’.

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    • Anonymous says:

      You are trying to use facts and logic in a place where conclusions are made on emotions and virtue signaling. Prepare for the thumbs down.

      Here, _concrete_ cause beach erosion, NOT the tides or currents. The _concrete walls_ repels sand back into the ocean.

      The fact that the beach would erode no matter whether there were a bunch of natural trees close to the beach, or buildings is irrelevant.

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      • Anonymous says:

        Not irrelevant. Walls cause erosion as the waves are forced to retreat scouring sand as the water has nowhere else to go.
        A tree allows the wave energy to dissipate naturally as it travels past the trunk.

    • Chris Johnson says:

      The name came from Boggy Sand Road. Up and until the early 70s there was a stretch of sand on the road and if you were in the wrong gear or going at the wrong speed your car got bogged down in the sand. A friend of mine lived in Pump Court at the far end of the road and on more than one occasion several of us had to assist retrieve his car.

  7. Anonymous says:

    “Who cares about the environment? I’ll approve every mansion application along the coastline since the more square footage a house has, the more appliances they’ll need to buy from my hardware store”.

    Conflict of interest at its finest.

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  8. Anonymous says:

    Could anyone answer me a questions relating to the dredging ship / ship extracting sand (only during the night) along seven mile for the last number of years. During the day the ship remains still and some nights, it’s lit up along with the sea around it and ablaze with activity (but only at night). I don’t believe it’s importing sand as I’ve never noticed the ship gone.

    Where is this sand going? Who benefits financially from this extraction (Assuming the sand is permanently removed)? Who owns the ship? Who pays the ship owners? Has the DOE (or does the DOE have to sanction) sanctioned the removal of same (assuming it is permanently removed)? Assuming the sand is permanently removed, could this impact beach erosion?

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  9. Anonymous says:

    Any remediation review needs to start with a historic context for that (larger) area which (a long time ago) used to include buildings (church, school, market, pier) where the sea now is. Stabilizing that shoreline, given historic retreat/erosion and the current situation, will take VERY careful planning and execution and a commitment to stick to the plan in the long term. (So no redrawing your boundary line when new sand temporarily extends it seaward, etc.)

    But it would be a good thing for Government to do. Properly.

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  10. Anonymous says:

    Realtor: And this house comes with a shore-fishing gazebo.

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  11. Anonymous says:

    So what? Dart is going to make a lovely beach by clearing more vegetation in Barker’s, everything is great, change is good, the past is gone, bring on high tide, invest in knee high wader boots, buy a kayak, and some ski’s to surf down the dump which gets higher by the day, everything is amazing here, especially the cost of living, its so justified and nobody is stealing from anyone, put my brother on a Board, buy him a condo, or a washing machine, the lord loves us all, especially me, give me 50 floors and a $10 coffee now bobo, my bank will lend me anyhow, take my pension, i’ll never be sick, this is a paradise

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  12. Kman says:

    Common sense should prevail when comes fo building near the water tet don’t forget the power of deep pockets and the influence of certain people in West Bay. Neither the wall nor the gazebo should have been built and now our beautiful 7MB could soon disappear because of this. The simple solution is to have both removed and replaced withnative vegetation such as coconut, grape trees and cocoplum plants yet will be costly and easier said than done.

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  13. Anonymous says:

    Take note people. This is the price of development. We were told the development would have no adverse affect on Boggy Sand Beaches and now they are almost gone.

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  14. Anonymous says:

    We allowed building too close to the sea, on the sea-side of the small, natural dune. One needs to look on how they prevent building and protect the dunes on the east coast of the US to see why it is important

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  15. Anonymous says:

    Its easy to see the people who weren’t in Cayman during any of the last +30 years of major storm events.

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  16. ELVIS says:

    He giveth and taketh away

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  17. Anonymous says:

    Money, corruption, nepotism, greed and incompetence are at the root of many of the problems we have in Cayman.

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  18. Anonymous says:

    Ask Marriott about beach erosion. Happens every year a couple times a year by the sea wall but I agree that setback rules should be followed on beach front property. Prime examples are two massive homes under construction now; one at Cemetery Beach and one next to Alfresco’s. Each barely fit on the parcels.

    While on subject of protecting Boggy Sand Beach and the environment, let’s restrict the jet ski operators endangering the beautiful reef and snorkelers there.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Who the hell approved that eyesore by Alfrescos???? Wait planning did. Can you all imagine Cayman in the next 30 years?? Drive thru south sound!!! XXXX …..hmmmm let me hush now. He damn house out on the road.

      All on that plannin board need they asses kicked to the curb.

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      • Anonymous says:

        You need to be taken off our island as the board does what is right. Cayman needs these rich people and there developments. Thank you CPA

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      • Anonymous says:

        Stepping off the bottom step of your staircase into the road is common practice everywhere in the world. Now if you put a 6′ x 8′ shed in your backyard to store a wheelbarrow and shovel, that requires some serious consideration, especially on the setback with your neighbour. We have very smart people in planning, and the board is filled with genii.

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  19. Anonymous says:

    Man: The stupid monkey.

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  20. Anonymous says:

    I would like to know which idiot approved the wall and gazebo in Planning in the first place?

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    • Anonymous says:

      I completely agree. A seawall causes waves which previously ran up the beach and deposited sand to now bounce back and wash the sand away.

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    • Say it like it is says:

      7.56pm Even if we were given the name of the “idiot””, which we won’t, it will make not a scintilla of difference. It is an inviolable rule of Government etched in stone (or in this case in our ironshore) that no civil servant will ever be held accountable for their misdeeds.

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      • Anonymous says:

        Psst. The sea wall was a ‘local’ government project. You know, the people who knows better than the technocrats they decry.

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    • Anonymous says:

      The same idiots who think that environmental impact studies are unimportant or disregard the findings if it isn’t to their liking.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Was pushed thru by the West Bay politician who sits in a high spot!

  21. Anonymous says:

    Might as well put a cruise ship dock there now. Less dredging required. Idiots.

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  22. Anonymous says:

    This happens EVERY year, at that spot. Its natural. It comes right back. We know this.

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