This is how Barcelona will restore the damaged beaches

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Beaches damaged in Barcelona

Barcelona not only attracts many visitors because of its large number of sights, its cultural heritage and its vibrant city life. The fact that the city is located directly on the beach also increases its attractiveness for many visitors. However, the beaches are becoming increasingly damaged by severe weather and erosion. The municipality is now coming up with a solution.

During Semana Santa (the week before Easter), Storm Nelson washed away between 15% and 30% of the sand along Barcelona’s five kilometre coastline. This amounts to a loss of approximately 130,000 square metres of sand. That is comparable to the total area of ​​four of the nine beaches in the city. A return of the sand naturally is made more difficult because there has been a series of successive storms. These have caused significant erosion to the coastline. In addition, these southern storms are becoming more frequent. The resulting erosion threatens not only the beaches themselves, but also facilities such as beach bars, stairs, decking and showers.

Sand from Port Olímpic

To replenish the beaches, Barcelona will remove 17,000 cubic metres of sand from the bottom of Port Olímpic. This is then added to the beaches of Barceloneta, Sant Sebastià and Nova Icària. These were extensively damaged during the recent autumn and winter storms, including Storm Nelson. The municipality also announced Wednesday that as an added benefit, removing the sand from the marina will improve the safety of boats entering the harbor.


The work will take between 10 and 15 days, depending on weather conditions. The city council has allocated a budget of €441,308 for this. It is the second time that these maintenance works have been carried out since BSM (Barcelona Serveis Municipals) took over management of the port. The aim of this work is to correct the periodic sand accumulation caused by waves and storms, among other things.

Safety for boats

The volume of sand removed during this operation is three times greater than the last operation in 2022. This will create an 84 metre wide channel with the correct depth. This guarantees access for boats to the harbour. The sand has been extensively tested for quality in advance to confirm that it is suitable for beach restoration. The sand will be distributed via pipeline and land transport.

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Transformation of Port Olímpic

These works coincide with the final phase of the transformation of Port Olímpic. With this transformation, the municipality is giving a boost to nautical activities by organising popular regattas and major events. Below are the sailing competitions of the America’s Cup. These events will increase the number of boats passing through the harbour.

Annual sand loss

According to calculations by the municipality, Barcelona’s beaches lose approximately 30,000 cubic metres of sand every year. To tackle this problem, strategic sand movements are carried out every year. Sand is then moved from places with an accumulation to places with a shortage. One of the areas with the greatest sand accumulation is the entrance to Port Olímpic.

Need for sand replenishment

The last major sand replenishment took place in 2010. That is why Patricia Giménez, director of Barcelona’s beaches, emphasised last week the urgent need for sand replenishment by the government. “We have been having meetings with the ministry and the Generalitat for years in which we have asked for this addition,” said Giménez.

The Ministry of Ecological Transition is currently conducting a study to determine how much sand is needed. According to Giménez, the most critical points of Barcelona’s beaches are Nova Mar Bella, the dune on Mar Bella beach and another area on Llevant beach.

Threat to beach bars

For beach bars it is a big problem that Barcelona’s beaches are shrinking. The constant erosion and loss of sand on the beaches means that these beloved catering establishments have less and less space to welcome their customers. In just one year, three of these ‘chiringuitos’ in the Catalan capital closed their doors for this reason. Other restaurants increasingly have to take measures to prevent flooding. The owner of a beach bar in the Barceloneta district says: “We check the sea daily to see if our terrace and restaurant are at risk.” This problem has been solved for the time being with the new sand addition.


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