Barcelona's beaches, an enduring gift of the 1992 Olympics, are shrinking. Since 2017, they have lost six to ten metres of width per year and the trend may be accelerating.
A recent study by the Área Metropolitana de Barcelona (AMB) says the problem, which is older than 2017, is getting worse because of increasing numbers and severity of storms, which have not left time for natural recovery of the beaches. And then Storm Gloria in January 2020 made it much worse.
Barcelona's City Council has financed replenishment of beaches with more sand each year, but says it needs help from the national government, saying that “the last major contribution of sand was made by the ministry in 2010. Since then we have only lost sand.”
AMB has proposed a 'Resilience Plan' that calls not only for more sand to be brought to the beaches but for major reconstruction of jetties and breakwaters along the shore to make them more effective at capturing and keeping sand.
The beaches were created in the preparation for the 1992 Olympics, when former rundown and industrial neighborhoods were cleared and replaced with sandy beaches only a short walk from the city's center. They've become a major attraction for locals and visitors.