Maguí Beach Dune Restoration Project

January 18, 2020

The Municipality of Hatillo has contracted EES to perform project management services for the Maguí Beach Dune Restoration Project. The coastal protection project, funded by Section 306A of the Coastal Zone Management Act and managed by the Coastal Zone Management Program of the Puerto Rico Department of Natural Resources, aims to restore the dune system and berm along the shoreline of Maguí Beach (also known as Poza Mar Azul), which was significantly impacted by the passage of Hurricanes Irma and María on September 2017, as well as by the historical swell events on March 2018.

The area shoreline system, which was once comprised of tall sand dunes and native vegetation, have been degraded overtime due to lack of coastal management practices and protection strategies. However, due to the recent effects of Hurricanes Irma and María, the berm was completely devastated, losing the capacity to shelter coastal species as well as to protect existing public infrastructure and residential structures from future storms or extreme wave events. Nonetheless, the proposed dune restoration project aims at raising community awareness and participation in dune restoration and protection to help build resilient coastal communities within the Municipality of Hatillo, in addition to reestablishing a health and sustainable dune environment through the combination of different coastal resources management methods and practices.

The primary goal of the project is to restore most of the natural berm located at Maguí Beach (along Malecón Avenue of the Mar Azul residential area) through a combination of restoration and management methods, including, but not limited to: re-nourishing/re-forming the dunes; using temporary sand stabilization techniques; revegetating with native herbaceous and vine species within the foredune and mid-dune, and tree species within the backdune, when appropriate; and installing structural measures (e.g., post & rail and/or post & rope fences) and other protective structures (e.g., signage and elevated dune walkovers) to deter pedestrian trampling.

The main objectives for accomplishing the project goals are:

  • Protecting community infrastructure, including the municipal access road (Malecón Avenue), stormwater sewer lines, sanitary sewer lines (a wastewater force main and gravity main), existing sanitary sewer pump station, and residential structures;
  • Reestablishing a healthy and sustainable dune environment;
  • Raising community awareness and participation in dune restoration and protection to help build resilient coastal communities;
  • Enhancing the overall quality of the beach habitat by restoring and maintaining a natural dune buffer between the existing coastal development and the Atlantic Ocean, thus protecting the shoreline from erosion; and
  • Reducing vulnerability to climate change in the Mar Azul community, therefore reducing physical damage to public infrastructure and private property during storm events.

Back in March 2019, EES supported the Municipality of Hatillo with the development and submittal of the Section 306A Grant Proposal application, and as of January 2020 EES will assist the municipality with planning activities, including: community participation; site assessments; workplan development; project development and design; and regulatory compliance.