Sand moved to cover Waikiki beach erosion swept away

Sand moved to cover Waikiki beach erosion swept away
Published: Oct. 18, 2013 at 11:06 PM HST|Updated: Oct. 19, 2013 at 1:04 PM HST
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WAIKIKI (HawaiiNewsNow) - Just a day after crews tackled an erosion problem at Kuhio Beach in Waikiki, half of the sand they brought in was washed away, according to city officials.

Tourists soaked up the sun in a spot that used to be off-limits due to safety hazards, but some of the concrete is already exposed again.

"The erosion, the shoreline, it's definitely showing that it's being battered," said Minnesota visitor Trixie Goldberg.

"Some of it has already moved back into the ocean as predicted, but as you can see today people are enjoying the beach," said Mike McCartney of the Hawaii Tourism Authority.

University of Hawaii graduate students spent the day collecting measurements for the Department of Land and Natural Resources. It's part of a two-year project analyzing the impact of last year's sand replenishment project. The data shows the beach lost about 27% of its sand volume in the first year which experts say is normal.

"You actually overfill it with sand so that then it erodes back to the designed beach and this sort of large loss of about a quarter of the amount of sand that was put there in the first year is typical. Then the loss decreases significantly," explained UH geology and geophysics professor Chip Fletcher.

The city's temporary fix will continue to protect visitors from rocks, rebar and other dangers. City officials said workers will move sand from the Diamond Head side of the beach in three to six weeks once the current tidal surge is over. Authorities, however, believe a long-term solution will need to involve the city, state, visitor industry and others.

"We need first to talk to our kupuna because they're the ones that have seen the beach year after year, generation after generation. They know what's going on then we can bring in the scientists and come up with a plan," said McCartney.

"Waikiki Beach has not been in a natural state for nearly a century. It's a heavily engineered and managed environment and as such it's appropriate to think of it as environmental infrastructure, just like our highway infrastructure," Fletcher said.

The city said that since it owns the equipment being used for the temporary sand replacement, the only cost is the overtime that will be paid to the workers.

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