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Project to address coastal erosion

The Maui News

A project to initiate a Maalaea Village Coastal Resilience and Erosion Management Plan will begin Tuesday, the Maui County Planning Department announced last week.

The project, which will cover the area from Maalaea Harbor to Haycraft Park, seeks a “proactive and holistic approach” to manage worsening coastal erosion at Maalaea Bay Beach by exploring different coastal resilience strategies, including erosion mitigation options and relocation of threatened structures, the department said.

Beginning Tuesday, contractors from Moffat & Nichol in Honolulu will conduct a sand resource study offshore of Maalaea Harbor. The study aims to identify, characterize and quantify possible sources of offshore sand that could support beach restoration options for Maalaea Bay Beach.

During work, the public may see a small boat with instrumentation traveling back and forth in nearshore waters off of Maalaea, the department said.

Coastal erosion in Hawaii is a continuing and worsening problem in the face of sea level rise, with 85 percent of Maui shorelines experiencing long-term erosion, according to the department.

To explore managed retreat options, contractors will be developing an analysis of the planning steps involved in the relocation of buildings and infrastructure.

High rates of historical shoreline erosion are documented for Maalaea Bay Beach. Condominiums along Hauoli Street built close to the shoreline prior to coastal management programs are threatened by coastal hazards and existing shoreline hardening structures are deteriorating, with some scheduled for removal or limited temporary repairs.

The 12-month project is being facilitated by the county Department of Planning with technical assistance from the University of Hawaii Sea Grant Program and funding support from the Maui County Council. The Maalaea Village Association is also providing partnership support.

The coastal-resilience community planning effort will provide next steps and proactive options for protecting at-risk properties and infrastructure as well as preserving the coastal ecosystem, the department said.

For more information, contact county Senior Shoreline Planner Erin Derrington at erin.derrington@co.maui.hi.us and Tara Owens, coastal processes and hazards specialist with the UH Sea Grant College Program, at taram@hawaii.edu.

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