Disappearing Sand Leads to Illegal Land Engineering in Cancun

As environmental conditions erode sand along the tourist-heavy beaches in Cancun, some hotel owners are taking drastic -- and illegal -- measures to rebuild their beaches.
September 5, 2009, 5am PDT | Nate Berg
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"Although Cancún has crystal-clear waters, plenty of sun and night life galore, its supply of sand has been dwindling for years, especially since Hurricane Wilma struck the Yucatán Peninsula hard and washed away much of the white granules four years ago. Now narrow slivers of sand lie between Cancún's towering hotels and the waves.

The government has spent tens of millions of dollars to replenish the beaches, but because those efforts have not kept up with Mother Nature, some hotel owners have taken measures into their own hands. At the Gran Caribe Real Cancún, workers built a breakwater into the ocean last year to reduce erosion and began pumping sand from the ocean floor to the shore."

Hotel workers have been arrested for stealing sand and trying to augment their diminishing beach property. The breakwater workers constructed has brought criminal charges and arrests as other hotel owners complain about negative impacts on their own beaches.

Thanks to Pruned

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Published on Monday, August 17, 2009 in The New York Times
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