Monster swells spur serious erosion, safety issues along Makaha shoreline

Monster swells spur serious erosion, safety issues along Makaha shoreline
Updated: Mar. 1, 2016 at 11:24 PM HST
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(Image: Hawaii News Now)
(Image: Hawaii News Now)
(Image: Hawaii News Now)
(Image: Hawaii News Now)

MAKAHA, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Erosion happens every winter season when big waves buffet Makaha's shoreline. But the damage at Makaha surfing beach this year is causing considerable concern.

"Right now, it's a big threat and it's happening all the way down the beach here," said Robert "Bunky" Bakutis, of Buffalo Surfing Classic.

The pounding waves from seven winter swells uncovered concrete pilings and exposed metal poles. "This was all sand," Makaha resident Phillip Naone said, pointing to an area far offshore.

Since the winter surf season started, the shoreline has shrunk by twenty to thirty yards, residents say. Rocks that were buried are now uncovered.

"They're posing a very dangerous situation," Bakutis said.

He also worries upcoming swells will dislodge the pilings and damage coral. "We're really concerned about the reef. What's going to happen to the reef?" he said.

The affected area is both city and state property. State Sen. Maile Shimabukuro, whose district includes Makaha, wants the government to bring in extra sand each summer to mitigate the effects of winter erosion. She said it's been done before but not on an annual basis.

"That's what the community is asking, bring some sand in and make this place safer," she said.

Bakutis, meanwhile, believes the permanent solution is for government to move Farrington Highway inland to expand the beach and keep beachgoers from having to cross the highway to reach restrooms.

"Our whole push here is to try to get them to see the light of not having to fight this every time it happens," he said.

Mayor Kirk Caldwell is talking to state transportation officials about relocating the highway, but such a project would be years in the making.

In the meantime, the city and state are still trying to formulate how they'll tackle Makaha's worsening erosion.

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