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Kahana beach restoration could cost up to $40M

Ten properties adjacent to bay team up to launch project

Sand bags armor the shoreline in Kahana during an afternoon high tide in October. The Kahana Bay Steering Committee, which represents nine condo properties and one single-family kuleana parcel along the coastline, is proposing an erosion mitigation project that is estimated to cost between $26 million and $40 million. The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo

Citing severe coastal erosion that puts public safety and infrastructure at risk, a group of Lahaina neighbors is proposing a multimillion dollar project that would gather offshore sand to expand Kahana Bay to about 65 feet — similar to its width nearly a half century ago.

If approved, a strip of beach that stretches about 0.7 mile from Kahana Stream to Pohaku Park would have sand brought in from three offshore sites for beach nourishment and berm enhancement, among other restoration work under the Kahana Bay Erosion Mitigation Project.

A draft environmental impact statement for the project was published April 23 in the state Office of Environmental Quality Control’s “The Environmental Notice.”

Proposed by the Kahana Bay Steering Committee, which represents nine condo properties and one single-family kuleana parcel along the coastline between Kahana Stream and Pohaku Park, the project would cost between $26 million and $40 million.

At best, construction could take six to nine months to complete; if it has to be done in phases due to environmental conditions, it could take about two years, according to the draft EIS.

Along with bringing in sand from offshore, the project calls for the installation of seven beach stabilizing composite T-groins and other erosion mitigation work. Oceanit image

Kahana Bay and surrounding areas are popular tourist destinations with residential, hotel and recreational uses. Residents and visitors frequent the beach and ocean for fishing, snorkeling, diving, swimming and other activities.

However, the area has long experienced severe coastal erosion from sea level rise, storm events and shoreline development. Erosion has persisted despite the installment of seawalls, sandbags and other measures, and the EIS projects that Kahana Bay erosion trends are expected to accelerate.

Calling it a “sustainable and resilient solution” to mitigate erosion, the proposed project centers on the beach nourishment, which will involve dredging, transporting and placing 50,000 to 100,000 cubic yards of sand from three identified offshore “borrow areas.”

“The goal of beach nourishment at Kahana Beach is to restore the sandy beach area to a documented historical 1975 width restoration benchmark,” the EIS said. “The average beach width is projected to increase to approximately 65 feet on average and will vary from 50 feet to 80 feet depending on the location.”

Dredged sand would be used to enhance berms, and native coastal flora would be planted along the back shore of the beach to provide wave run-up protection and serve as a sand reservoir to the beach system.

The multimillion-dollar Kahana Bay Erosion Mitigation Project proposes mechanical dredging from three offshore sites to collect and place 50,000 to 100,000 cubic yards of sand on Kahana Bay. The goal of beach nourishment is to restore the sandy beach area to a documented historical 1975 width restoration benchmark, which is about 65 feet wide. Oceanit image

To keep the restored sand in place, seven beach stabilizing composite T-groins will extend perpendicularly from the shoreline to about 215 feet offshore, each with approximately 200-foot-wide breakwater sections.

In addition, the headland at the north end of the project area will be reinforced with imported boulder stones.

Dozens of federal, state and county permits and approvals will be required for the project, which is estimated to cost $26 million to $40 million, which includes construction and maintenance costs over 50 years.

The steering committee has a cost-sharing agreement among the 10 properties, which includes the draft environmental impact statement process and studies.

However, the parties are not bound to costs and expenses of the project implementation and construction, the draft EIS said.

Three options are being explored to carry it out, including private funding, County of Maui Community Facilities District Funding and Federal Emergency Management Agency Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities program money.

To view the full draft EIS on the Kahana Bay Erosion Mitigation Project, visit oeqc2.doh.hawaii.gov/EA_EIS_Library/2021-04-23-MA-DEIS-Kahana-Bay-Erosion-Mitigation.pdf.

Comments are due by June 7 and should be sent to the approving agency, the state Department of Land and Natural Resources, by mail at 1151 Punchbowl Street #131, Honolulu, HI 96813; by phone at (808) 587-0377; or by email at sam.j.lemmo@hawaii.gov.

The applicant and consultant should also be copied.

Applicant Kahana Bay Steering Committee can be reached by mail at 10 Ho’ohui Road, Suite 201, Lahaina, HI 96761; by phone at (530) 559-2606; or by email at sterlinghonea@gmail.com.

Consultant Oceanit can be reached by mail at 828 Fort Street Mall, Suite 600, Honolulu, HI 96813; by phone at (808) 531-3017; or by email at kahana@oceanit.com.

* Kehaulani Cerizo can be reached at kcerizo@mauinews.com.

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