- Associated Press - Sunday, June 5, 2016

WAILUKU, Hawaii (AP) - Offshore sand could help deter beach erosion in west Maui.

The county planning department has been working with consultant Moffatt & Nichol since February on a study that resulted in the discovery of 300,000 cubic yards of sand off Kahana Bay in April, Maui News reported (https://bit.ly/22GWxph ).

“We have samples of it and even our consultants were quite surprised and very happy,” said James Buika, the county’s lead coastal resources and shoreline planner. “It’s long stretches of high-quality sand with no coral around.”

It’s a long process to get the sand to shore, said Tara Owns, coastal processes and hazards specialist for the University of Hawaii Sea Grant. Research, planning and permitting could take five years with costs estimated between $15 million and $20 million.

Officials are working on an environmental impact statement for the plan.

“We’re exploring our options, including a combination of funding to minimize the costs for condo owners,” Owens said. “It’s really turned everybody’s thinking around. We can promote this vision for Kahana Bay that is attainable in the very near-term future.”

Owners of condominiums and resorts in the area have spent thousands over the years to protect their properties.

“It is a continual battle,” said Ty Emanual, a Royal Kahana Resort board member. “It’s just something we have to budget on and plan on.”

El Nino brought high tides and strong swells this year that contributed to the disappearing coastline and impacted properties. El Nino is the natural warming of parts of the Pacific Ocean that changes weather worldwide.

Scott Brothers Construction owner Worthy Clay Scott said last month that the situation is a crisis.

Thousands of sandbags are lined up on the beach outside Valley Isle Resort.

Part of the Royal Kahana Resort pool and broken slabs of concrete are taped off due to damage from waves.

“Fifteen years ago, they should’ve started this process … but 15 years ago no one was panicked because you had a little more beach out here and none of this had happened yet,” Scott said, also noting the lengthy permitting process to install certain types of barriers.

The county budgeted $160,000 to study ways to stymie erosion along the coastline.

“This has been happening over decades. I don’t consider neglect as an emergency,” Mayor Alan Arakawa said. “The fact that these guys haven’t done what they should’ve done. They haven’t done the studies. They haven’t protected their property. It’s their emergency. It’s not the county’s emergency.”


Information from: The Maui News, https://www.mauinews.com

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