Beach neighbors plan, propose to pay for multimillion-dollar groin repairs

Rock structures were contructed pre-1944 to stem sand loss and shoreline recession

Groin 3 of the seven-groin restoration project is severely destabilized, having lost a lower foundation support stone. Other damages include other missing stones and significant vertical cracks. The groin is a “safety hazard to beach users due to potential failure of the structure,” the draft assessment said. Sea Engineering Inc. photos

A group of Spreckelsville Beach neighbors are proposing a more than $1 million project to repair the majority of remnant rock groin structures near their properties in an effort to stem sand loss and shoreline recession.

A draft environmental assessment for the project on the west end of beach, also known as Stable Beach, was published in Friday’s “The Environmental Notice” by the state Office of Environmental Quality Control.

The project involves repairing six of the seven rock groins that are believed to have been constructed pre-1944 and are “presently in deteriorated condition.” A seventh groin would be replaced with a new engineered groin.

The shoreline in the area has been relatively stable over the long term, with shoreline recessions typically being less than 1 foot per year, the draft assessment said. But in recent years, there has been a dramatic increase in sand loss and shoreline recession.

This was attributed to the continuing deterioration of the groins and the Japanese Tohoku tsunami in 2011, which damaged the groins. Sustained large winter surf over the past several years further damaged the groins and eroded away the sand, the draft assessment said.

Six of the seven groins are made of rock and one groin — Groin 3 — is a combination of rock with a concrete core. Groin 3 would be replaced by an engineered groin design based on current wave conditions and up-to-date sea level rise projections

The project is expected to cost between $1.5 million to $2 million, according to the project’s draft environmental assessment.

The money would come privately from area property owners, and there is no funding from the government, Patti Cadiz, who is with Community Beach Restoration Foundation, said Monday.

Community Beach Restoration Foundation was formed by five contiguous beachfront neighbors and is seeking approvals to do the work. The nonprofit organization was created to provide a formal management structure to promote and administer a beach conservation and restoration program, the draft assessment said.

The foundation recognizes that Maui’s beaches are owned by the state as a public recreational and environmental resource, but recent erosion has caused sand loss and narrowing of the public beach areas and diminished the valuable resource, the report added.

Cadiz said that the groins have not been maintained.

The group has partnered with professionals to plan and carry out the beach management plan for the region. Construction could begin this summer or fall and is expected to last 45 to 60 days, the draft assessment said.

Six of the seven groins are made of rock and one groin, “Groin 3,” is a combination of rock with a concrete core. Some of the rock is grouted into the core of Groin 3.

The original construction of the six groins may have been piles of rocks placed by trucks and other equipment. It is likely that the stone was not carefully sorted or placed, the draft assessment said.

The intent of the plan is to repair the six groins to what is believed to be their original designs and materials, the report said. Groin 3 would be replaced by an engineered groin design based on current wave conditions and up-to-date sea level rise projections.

Groin 3 is severely destabilized, having lost a lower foundation support stone. Other damages include other missing stones and significant vertical cracks.

The groin is a “safety hazard to beach users due to potential failure of the structure,” the draft assessment said.

There will be some temporary, short-term impacts to air and water quality and noise levels during construction. But the impacts would be limited to the construction period and are not expected to be significant, the draft assessment said.

Once construction begins, swimmers and other users of the nearshore area at the project site would be required to take a more seaward route past this section of shoreline, the report said.

The proposed project is unlikely to have any significant or adverse effect on known cultural or traditional Hawaiian practices; no flora or fauna are expected to be lost, the report said.

A 30-day public review and comment period has begun with comments due by April 8. The approving agency is the state Department of Land and Natural Resources.

To view the draft environmental assessment, go to health.hawaii.gov/oeqc/ and click on “The Environmental Notice.”

* Melissa Tanji can be reached at mtanji@mauinews.com.

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