Work begins Monday to slow erosion and replenish sand at Kailua Beach

By Brooks Baehr - bio | email

KAILUA (HawaiiNewsNow) - The Lanikai end of Kailua Beach has been disappearing for decades. Tons of sand has slowly eroded, undermining vegetation, exposing rocks that have always been covered, and leaving beach goers with very little room to play.

The city tried to address the problem in the 1970's by installing "sand grabbers," a series of cinder blocks lashed together by rebar. The sand grabbers are visible near the Kailua boat ramp. They may have worked for a while, but after being buried for more than 25 years the sand grabbers were exposed a few years ago, uncovered by more erosion.

"With all this artificial kind of blocking that's here on the beach, I don't know, I think interferes with the natural ebb and flow of where the sand should go," said 40-year Kailua resident and beach regular Rick McMahon.

The City and County of Honolulu concedes the sand grabbers are not only unsightly. They are a hazard.

"The rebar is the safety issue right now, so I had my staff come out there to remove the rebar that was sticking up. But that's not enough because as you can see the wave action behind ... it's going to keep moving and it's going to break loose," said Gary Cabato, Director of the City Department of Parks and Recreation.

To prevent injury and rid the beach of the blight the city has decided to remove the concrete and rebar piece by piece.

Once the sand grabbers are gone the fragile shoreline will be even more exposed. But taking away the sand grabbers is only part of the plan.

Kaelepulu Stream is just a few hundred yards from the sand grabbers. The city regularly opens the stream mouth to prevent flooding. For decades it has pushed sand from the mouth of the stream up the banks of the stream creating large dunes. That practice effectively removed the sand from the beach. Some call it "mining the sand."

Now, for the first time, the city will take the sand that is displaced by opening the stream, and put it back on the beach in place of sand grabbers.

The idea is to slow erosion and restore as much of the beach as possible.

The work to remove the sand grabbers will begin Monday, August 8. If all goes as planned, the sand grabbers will be gone before the following weekend.

The city will also be making repairs to the Kailua boat ramp next week. The ramp is scheduled to be closed all next to facilitate the work.

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