Sand needs protecting for cultural, environmental, economic reasons

Our County

Removing our sand resources from Central Maui and shipping them off-island may soon become a thing of the past.

I recently sat down with representatives from Honolulu Construction & Draying Co. Ltd., or HC&D, formerly known as Ameron Hawaii. HC&D made the news a couple of months ago because it had purchased sand from Maui Lani LLC property in Wailuku and was shipping it to Oahu for its construction projects.

I am currently in discussions with HC&D and Maui Lani LLC representatives and working toward an agreement regarding their excavation and export of Maui sand resources. I am also discussing a commitment from HC&D President Wade Wakayama to stop sand mining.

Earlier this year the county Department of Planning issued a Notice of Warning to Maui Lani LLC that requires all sand mining in this area to cease and desist. Some members of the community nearby have been very diligent in monitoring this area to let us know about all activity they see.

Some of the complaints received here by the Mayor’s Office include concerns about disturbing or damaging archeological sites, which are overseen by the State Historic Preservation Division. If anyone has evidence of violations of this sort they are asked by the State Historic Preservation Division to report them to the state Department of Land and Natural Resources Enforcement branch at (808) 643-DLNR (3567).

It is important to protect our island’s sand resources for cultural, environmental and economic reasons.

According to the Maui Inland Sand Quantity study that was released in 2006, our Central Maui sand deposits were “built up over thousands of years when the central valley was covered by the ocean.” Sand was used for construction purposes from at least World War II, and construction ramped up in the ’70s that “required a much greater amount of concrete and its components including sand.”

“The average concrete production during that decade was probably in the neighborhood of 160,000 cubic yards, which required 48,000 tons of sand,” according to the study.

The first case of exporting sand to Oahu took place after the construction of the Leisure Estates subdivision in Waiehu. It was built upon a “large sand dune” and the excess sand was trucked and stockpiled nearby.

Ameron decided to purchase the sand from that project and barge it to Oahu in 1985, a practice that continued for many more years. By the time this study was being conducted in the early 2000s, it was estimated that between two companies, Hawaiian Cement and Ameron, they were exporting 244,000 tons of sand annually to Oahu from Maui.

The study concluded that the “great Maui inland sand resources that were available . . . are no longer available, due to development on, or preservation of the larger dunes.”

The study also pointed out that “there may be other properties in the future from which sand may become available, but they will not have the quantities required to have the concrete companies excavate and make it worth their while.”

The final sentence states the “remaining life of easily available sand is getting short” and that concrete companies and the construction industry in general need to “plan for the end of this supply.”

HC&D and Maui Lani LLC realize that what this study concluded almost 10 years ago is even more relevant today, which is why I believe both entities will agree to refrain from mining and exporting sand off-island. It makes sense for everyone to protect what remains of this important resource.

* “Our County,” a column from Maui County Mayor Alan Arakawa, discusses county issues and activities of county government. The column usually appears on the first and third Fridays of the month.