Monday, October 27, 2008

Stealing Sand from Beaches?

Back in the early 80's when I was building my house, a mason told me to get "Cowbay Sand" to make the mortar for the walls of my foundation - that it was worth the extra expense. He told me that Cowbay Sand came from Long Island, and its characteristic mix of particle sizes and shapes help make a strong mortar. The sand was described this way in a recent Port Washington News report:
The sandbanks of Port Washington are more than 20,000 years old, originating when the final glacier left behind mounds of glacial sand and gravel. Since the 1880s, it has been estimated that over 140 million yards of sand were delivered from Port Washington to New York City; enough sand to cover the Empire State Building with sand extending from the East River to the Hudson River and from 14th Street to 59th Street. The sand, known as Cow Bay sand, was of particularly fine quality and used to construct the sidewalks, skyscrapers, water tunnels and infrastructure of New York City.
There's a neat article from Newsday on the Long Island sand industry here, too.
I wondered then, and still do, is there enough sand around to support all the construction that is constantly going on around us?
It turns out that mining of sand is a big business, and apparently often done illegally, on some Caribbean islands where the demand for sand for construction is so great, and the profits so high, that huge sections of beach are literally being stolen over night.

No comments: