homepage logo

Foundation pursuing project to restore sand at Napili Bay

By Staff | Oct 24, 2019

NAPILI – Napili Bay and Beach Foundation (NBBF) members are the vital stewards of this eco-challenged, delicate marine treasure along the northwest coast of Maui.

Over the years, the shepherd nonprofit has assumed its kuleana with fervor.

Its accomplishments are focused on one goal: “protecting and improving our beach and bay.”

Its directors are Pat Lindquist, founder and president; Gregg Nelson, vice president and general manager of Napili Kai Beach Resort; Nane Aluli, secretary and general manager at The Mauian; Jamie Lung-Ka’eo, general manager of Hale Napili; and Norm Runyan, general manager at Napili Shores.

Past achievements have served to bolster its mission, including monitoring the bay health, regular water quality testing, improvements to the mauka Napili 4-5 desilting basin and the repair and restoration of the ephemeral stream.

Lindquist’s battle cry is, “A healthy beach at Napili and healthy reef go hand-in-hand; each helps the other stay healthy.”

With the recent onslaught of king tides, sea level rise and battering south swells, the beach and reef were stressed and damaged by changing weather patterns.

Action-oriented, NBBF has taken steps to restore the golden sands of Napili Beach, with two essential studies completed to prepare for beach restoration – “hopefully during 2021,” its president said.

The analyses included a Benthic Environmental Assessment study and a Beach Mechanism study, with significant financial assistance from the North Beach West Maui Benefit Fund.

Lindquist is pleased with the study results. “We have a section of the bay that has healthy reef life, and we have an abundance of small coral nubs in mid-bay, which indicates coral larval supply in the area.”

There was bad news as well. Unfortunately, much of the coral present is damaged or diseased.

Water quality testing has been a good teacher.

“The water quality (WQ) in Napili Bay,” Lindquist advised, “is crucial to healthy reef life, and Hui O Ka Wai Ola samples our water every three weeks.

“The ‘worst ever turbidity’ values came during all the coastal erosion we experienced in mid-July (2019). This is something we’ve learned, thanks to this WQ monitoring program… thin to no beach damages our water quality in the bay by eroding the mauka edge of the beach. Napili has no sand dunes under our structures but plenty of red clay,” she observed.

Tragically, “what is happening now at Napili in these high-wave events,” Lindquist explained, “the waves are eroding the coastline soils and bringing that dirt into the water.”

“A healthy reef helps protect the beach from being eroded – helps the beach stay intact and healthy. A healthy beach also prevents wave action pulling soils into the bay. Dirt and other contaminants in the bay impairs water quality, which stresses corals which stresses the fish/other animals that depend on them for food/shelter.”

It’s that simple or complicated.

With a wide sandy beach, Lindquist explained, erosion can take sand out and back, to and from the beach. The water may get cloudy with stirred up sand, but that settles out and the water clears.

Aluli has a clear recall.

“I first came to Napili Bay back in Christmas of 1959 with my Mom (Irmgard Farden Aluli) and Dad. We had flown from Oahu to Maui (Napili) to celebrate Christmas with my uncles, aunts and cousins Back then, the beach probably extended out another 40 to 50 feet from where it is now.

“For me, the most notable change has been in the amount of sand that has disappeared over the years,” Aluli observed.

The NBBF is taking steps to retrieve offshore sand in an effort to create a much-needed buffer zone.

“We’re aiming at adding at least 20 feet of width to the beach,” Lindquist said.

A coastal engineer has been engaged to conduct a Beach Profile study to quantify beach dimensions and slope, in order to determine best placement of sand.

Additionally, NBBF is working with Maui County, Sea Grant and the state Department of Land & Natural Resources to successfully restore the beach using a Small Scale Beach Nourishment II project.

“The state DLNR has been working to streamline permits for these smaller projects and have done a lot of Environmental Impact Studies, which will allow Environmental Assessments instead of the more lengthy and costly Environmental Impact Studies for projects that meet the Small Scale Beach Nourishment parameters,” Lindquist explained.

The project may be small-scale, but the cost is estimated in the $1,000,000 to $2,000,000 range.

“We have raised money from the resorts/resort condominium owners so far, as well as from loyal guests who love Napili. This isn’t likely to be sufficient for the full implementation project, so we are working with experts who know how to help communities fund big projects like this,” Lindquist said.

Donations are also being accepted at the napilibayfoundation.org website.

“Go directly to our Beach Restoration Fund, where 100 percent of the dollars raised go to project expenses there is no overhead,” Lindquist instructed.

Nelson is a hands-on advocate.

“The NBBF has always appreciated the unique and very special nature of Napili Bay and has worked hard for over 15 years to preserve this exceptional place for the enjoyment of both residents and visitors. Our many past efforts to improve the water quality in the bay have already seen the return of many forms of marine life, including some early signs of coral regeneration.

“We now have turned our attention to the much more challenging task of beach re-nourishment, the process of restoring sand on the beach by bringing offshore sand back to the beach. Readers may ask, why is this necessary? It is all connected to our goal of improving the water quality in the bay. A healthy beach is a key component to maintaining water quality we all can be proud of. Without it, all our efforts to improve the bay are greatly hampered.”

“Concerned residents and visitors, who enjoy this bay and beach,” Nelson added, “have an opportunity to help make a positive difference through Napili Bay and Beach Foundation.”

He encouraged bystanders “to participate in this community effort to restore our beach and make a meaningful contribution for the future.”