Surfers fear ripple effect
of Waikiki sand recycling

A group of surfers raised questions last night about the state's plans for recycling sand from offshore back onto Kuhio Beach.

"Surf is a big deal for us beach boys as well as for people who come to Waikiki," said Clyde Aikau, of C & K Beach Services. "I just hope your project doesn't ruin the surf."

The $500,000 project is to pump 10,000 cubic yards of sand -- the equivalent of 1,000 dump-truck loads -- onto the beach between the Kapahulu storm drain and the Waikiki Beach Center and police substation during the month of October.

According to studies, Waikiki erodes about a foot a year, on average, and Kuhio Beach has not had a major replenishment in 32 years, said Dolan Eversole, a coastal geologist managing the project for the state Department of Land and Natural Resources, during an informational meeting attended by several dozen surfers and others at Waikiki Elementary School.

Even though the amount of sand to be added will not make a huge visual difference, it is necessary to provide better access to the beach, he said.

"This is not a permanent fix. It's a temporary measure -- what I might call an emergency measure -- that will give us a couple of years, if that," Eversole said.

If successful, the pump-from-offshore method of beach replenishment could be repeated at other state beaches that are eroding.

"We have more sand than we've ever had in the history of Waikiki," insisted surfer and former beach boy George Downing, a spokesman for Save Our Surf.

Downing said his organization is withdrawing support for the project unless it is altered so sand is not put by the Waikiki Police Substation.

He said he is worried that the sand washing back off the beach there will change surf breaks.

Rocky Iaukea, a beach boy at Kuhio Beach, was concerned about what the project might do to the walls that create the two swimming basins at the beach.

The current project just deals with putting sand on the beach, not with the crib walls, said Sam Lemmo, state coastal lands manager.

Iaukea said he is pleased that putting sand onto the beach is planned for the evening hours. "That would be so much nicer," he said.

One man at the meeting, who refused to give his name, said he does not support it.

"You're blowing my money as a resident," he said. "You're spending it in ways that is counterproductive. ... I remember when Waikiki was rocks. Sand did not draw tourists to Hawaii; it was the aloha spirit."

Though the contract for the work has not been awarded, the sole bidder for it is American Marine, the same company that dredged the Ala Wai Canal last year.

Dept. of Land & Natural Resources



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