One of the most common projects that dredging companies take part in is the extraction of gravel and sand from seabeds and waterways. Gravel and sand are some of the most used materials in the construction industry. As the need for more construction materials increases along with the global population, it puts a greater demand on the resources. But it leads to an interesting question, are we running out of sand? Given our commitment to environmentally-friendly practices, U.S. Aqua Services tracks down the answers to questions like these to ensure that we don’t leave a greater footprint than we have to.
The Demand For Sand
You might not be aware of the demand for sand, after all, it’s coarse, it’s rough and irritating, and it gets everywhere. But that fact is that sand and gravel are now the most extracted resources in the world, and that includes major extracted resources like biomass and fossil fuels. Sand is a more versatile material than many first realize. Sand is used to make the glass for our mirrors and windows, it’s used in the concrete to make our buildings and sidewalks, and its used en masse for our beach reclamation projects. Any time an area experiences a major flooding event, sand is used to create barriers and channel flood waters, a role made obvious in recent major floods in Houston, India, and Nepal.
Just How Much Sand Is Being Collected?
Look at any beach, and you might be left thinking “how could we ever run out of sand?” It’s easy to imagine running out of sand when you think about the fact that in 2010 alone, nations mined about 11 billion tonnes of sand just for construction projects.
How Is It Affecting The World
Running out of sand means more than just not having nice beaches to play on. In poorer nations who rely on sand mining to create jobs, the lack of sand is leading to violence within communities, as factions battle for control of this valuable resource. Beyond the violence between people, there is also the violence being committed against the environment itself. Removing such massive quantities of sand has physically changed the landscape of some places, shifting the course of rivers, and eroding soils and stripping dirt of its nutrients.
What Steps Can Be Taken?
Unfortunately, there isn’t a clear solution right now. Some major construction firms are experimenting with sands from deserts instead of the sand found near waterways. There is also a push to do a better job of recycling construction materials so less sand is needed. The reality is that it will take a concerted effort on the part of mining firms and dredging companies to responsibly use and source their sand to ensure that their impact does not extend beyond the extraction site.
The team members that make up our dredging company realize that their work can dramatically change any environment. That’s why we’re committed to using machinery and techniques that minimize our impact on the environment of our work site. We consider environmental stewardship to be one of the most important parts of our company’s strategies. Contact us today to learn more, or to arrange for a dredge rental.