A hui of beachfront homeowners in Spreckelsville want to begin construction on rock groins at a beach along Stable Road by next spring or early summer to replace temporary sand-filled "geotubes" that were laid two years ago to slow beach erosion.
So far the geotubes have slowed down erosion but are breaking down and are not as aesthetically pleasing and permanent as rock groins, according to the Stable Road Beach Restoration Foundation.
This month, the foundation filed an application with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for a Department of the Army permit for work on parts of the beach and water to remove the four existing geotextile tube groins and construct four new permanent rock groins.
Geotubes filled with sand, which were installed to slow erosion at Spreckelsville, are visible on the north shore beach Wednesday. The Stable Road Beach Restoration Foundation is proposing to replace the geotubes with rock groins.
The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo
The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo
In addition, the foundation is seeking to place approximately 810 cubic yards of dredged beach sand, including sand that would be expelled during the demolition of the geotube groins, on approximately 1.11 acres below the high-tide line of the Stable Road Beach.
The Army Corps is soliciting comments on the application. The deadline to comment is Jan. 7. (See box.)
The project is a continuation of the foundation's efforts to slow the erosion that the applicants say has been going on for decades and has resulted in the loss of land, adverse environmental impacts on beach use and recreation and suitable habitat for endangered species, as well as reduced water quality that poses an increased threat to marine biota and other nearshore resources.
Rock Groins Project
Comments must be received by Jan. 7.
If via email, comments must originate from the author's email account and include on the subject line of the email message the permit applicant's name: Ian Horswill, Stable Road Beach Restoration Foundation Inc.; and Corps file number:
POH-2011-00109. Email comments should be sent to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Mail comments may be sent to:
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
Honolulu District, Regulatory Office
Building 230 (Attn: CEPOH-EC-R)
Ft. Shafter HI 96858-5440
For more information call Meyer at (808) 835-4599.
The initial pilot project, approved by the state Department of Land and Natural Resources, was controversial among recreational ocean users and some neighbors who complained that sand mining was doing more harm than good and that the anchored geotubes were damaging the reef.
The final environmental assessment for the permanent rock groins was approved by the state DLNR in January. The DLNR found that the project would not result in any significant impact on the environment.
Some recreational users of the area are still skeptical of the new project that they fear will include the trucking in of sand taken from other parts of the island. Some have expressed worries that if sand were to be brought in from other areas, it could contain foreign material that might be environmentally harmful.
But foundation President Ian Horswill said there is nothing to fear.
"We do not plan to do any nourishment on this. All we are going to do is replace the geotubes that are falling apart," Horswill said last week.
He added that the foundation would like to avoid putting more sand on the beach.
Although it does have a benefit, "it's a risk we wouldn't want to undertake," Horswill added.
The environmental assessment for the rock groin project lists alternatives, including replacing the existing geotube groins with rock groins and nourishing the Stable Road Beach with inland sand.
But both the information filed with the Army Corps and Horswill confirmed that the alternative or action chosen for the project will only involve replacing geotube groins with rock groins and there will be no sand replenishment.
The proposed rock groin project is expected to cost between $150,000 and $200,000, Horswill said.
He said the foundation has been pleased with the temporary sand-filled groins that are retaining sand and saving the beach.
"It's worked as well (as we) thought it could have worked. There's nothing like having a good beach than (one that) used to be with old trees falling down and no sand on the beach and land falling into the ocean. Nobody could walk up and down the beach," Horswill added.
The temporary geotubes are permitted only through mid-2014.
The organization was formed in 2007 by seven Stable Road neighborhood homeowners to help restore and protect the beach.
According to the foundation, from 2006 to 2009, the land fronting the residential properties adjoining Stable Beach Road eroded as much as 4 to 6 feet each year.
Horswill said that after the permanent rock groins are installed, the foundation would like to conduct sand dune restoration by planting native plants in the area. The foundation would like to also involve students in learning about beach restoration.
The current proposal would probably use rock material from the West Maui Construction Yard. If there is not enough, the foundation would obtain the rock from a cane field or existing construction site, according to information from the Army Corps.
Horswill said the West Maui Construction Yard is a business that will secure any permits if needed for the use of the rocks.
To remove the groins, workers will do hand-cutting using razor knives. Sand will be excavated from the tubes and will be stockpiled near the beach shoreline, above the high-tide line, for "de-watering," according to the Army Corps website.
From the sand, geotextile material and other debris will removed and taken to the Central Maui Landfill.
The new rock groins will be installed after the removal of the geotubes. The groin construction would involve the excavation of beach sand for placement of the groin materials.
The rock groins will replace the geotubes of the same scale and will be located in the same general area. The rock groins will be approximately 110 to 135 feet long and 20 to 27 feet wide at their base.
Construction is expected to last about 30 days.
For more information see: www.poh.usace.army.mil/Media/PublicNotices/tabid/972/Article/20248/poh-2011-00109.aspx
* Melissa Tanji can be reached at email@example.com.