KAHANA BAY, MAUI (HawaiiNewsNow) - A new beach nourishment proposal could help restore a shrinking shoreline along the coast of West Maui — and end a fierce fight over a seawall that’s currently under construction.
The Kahana Bay Steering Committee represents nine oceanfront condominiums and a single kuleana parcel that have continuously been threatened by extreme erosion due to sea level rise, frequent storms and existing seawalls.
“The problem in the past is that we’ve been reactively planning on a parcel by parcel basis, and what we’ve done is just pushed the problem farther down the coastline,” said Jim Buika, a shoreline planner with the Maui County Planning Department. “There’s half a billion dollars worth of real estate at stake. (The new beach nourishment proposal) buys us time.”
The environmental review process is now underway for what’s being called the Kahana Bay Erosion Mitigation project. It calls for the widening of the existing beach by as much as 150 feet, using up to 100,000 cubic yards of sand from nearby offshore sites.
Sand containment structures, such as T-head groins, would be built to stabilize the beach. The initial cost estimate is $8 million, and the condominiums in the area have agreed to pay for the entire project.
Once the beach nourishment project is finished, the Hololani Resort Condominiums must remove a temporary sheet pile wall that was built last year. The Hololani Association of Apartment Owners had also planned to build a rock revetment, but the project failed to secure the legislature’s approval to use the state-owned shoreline.
Opponents who filed a lawsuit to halt the Hololani’s project say they hope that the beach nourishment plan will provide a more favorable solution.
“We don’t just want to fight against seawalls and fight against developments and things like this,” said Kai Nishiki, a member of Na Papai Wawae Ulaula. “We want to find solutions that really work for our community.”
The beach nourishment work is projected to begin as early as the summer of 2020.
“Replenishment would hopefully give us back our beach which we don’t have at all now,” said Hololani resident Dan Stockhammer.