Friday, January 15, 1999

Experiment may correct
Maui shoreline erosion

By Gary Kubota


WAILUKU -- Papakea Resort resident Harris LeVine hopes a proposed sand replenishment project at a county beach park will lead to restoring the shoreline outside his condominium.

Erosion along this west Maui coastline has been so severe many condominiums have only stone barriers protecting their property from the sea.

"The owners are deeply concerned and want to get their beaches back," said LeVine, a Papakea condominium board member.

Park officials worry further erosion will damage large shade trees and restroom facilities at the park, one of the few public recreation areas in west Maui.

Experts note that within a 25-year period, the vegetation line at the park has receded about 65 feet as a result of beach erosion.

Joseph Hensley, another Papakea resident, remembers seeing a photograph of sand nearly to the top of a sea wall fronting his condominium. The sand is now 10 feet below the wall.

The park, with nearly 500 feet of beachfront land, was selected by the state for the demonstration project after a review of 12 sites, including Kaaawa Beach Park.

One of the reasons for choosing Honokowai is its proximity to properties that have little or no beach, reducing the potential risk of any shoreline damage.

"We carefully picked a site where it wouldn't impact adjacent shores, because they (condominiums) already got walls," said Scott Sullivan, vice president of Sea Engineering Inc., a consultant for the state.

Sullivan said the proposed plan was also selected because of the cone shape of the shoreline, giving it a greater chance of keeping the sand on the beach.

He said to capture sand migrating north in the water, the proposed plan will probably include the placement of an upside down L-shaped line of large boulders extending in the water on both sides of the beach.

Similar beach replenishment systems have been used elsewhere, including the shoreline of Waikiki, he said.

One of the major problems facing the project is finding the right size of sand at the right price and with few environmental impacts. Sullivan said the sand has to be a certain size to stop it from moving too quickly away from the beach.

The funding for the study cost $25,000. State officials will need more money to develop the replenishment project.

Planners estimate the proposal will take about eight to 12 months to receive approval from government agencies, including the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and state Board of Land and Natural Resources.

Nearby residents say the beach restoration will not only improve recreational use of the shoreline, but also increase property values.

LeVine said the effect will be higher government tax revenues.

He said the project may also lead to condominium owners exploring ways to replenish sand in front of their properties.

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