homepage logo

Comment period open for Kaanapali Beach Restoration and Berm Enhancement Draft EIS

By Staff | Sep 3, 2020

Kaanapali Beach has experienced chronic erosion and extreme seasonal erosion over the last 40 years, and sand loss is expected to continue and even accelerate with sea level rise. The State of Hawaii and Kaanapali Operations Association Inc. have developed a plan that includes both beach restoration and berm enhancement to promote the long-term viability of this sandy coastal resource. PHOTO FROM THE KAANAPALI BEACH RESTORATION DRAFT EIS.

KAANAPALI – The state Department of Land & Natural Resources is proposing a $9,275,000 project to replenish sand and mitigate chronic and extreme seasonal erosion at Kaanapali Beach over the last four decades.

The public has until Oct. 7, 2020, to submit comments on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for the proposed Kaanapali Beach Restoration and Berm Enhancement.

A link to the study and details on how to submit comments are included in the Aug. 23 issue of “The Environmental Notice” posted on the state Office of Environmental Quality Control’s website at health.hawaii.gov/oeqc.

According to DEIS documents prepared by Sea Engineering Inc., “The cumulative effect on the shoreline, the beach resource, and the sandy nearshore ecosystem has been negative. The State of Hawaii and the Ka’anapali Operators Association have developed a plan to ensure the long-term viability of this sandy coastal resource that includes both beach restoration and berm enhancement.”

Beach restoration is proposed between Hanaka’o’o Beach Park and Hanaka’o’o Point (Hanaka’o’o Littoral Cell), and beach berm enhancement is proposed between Hanaka’o’o Point and Pu’u Keka’a (Ka’anapali Littoral Cell).

According to the DEIS, “The Hanaka’o’o Littoral Cell is suffering from chronic and episodic erosion, which has resulted in beach narrowing, beach migration, and damage to backshore infrastructure, including the Ka’anapali Beachwalk. The beach in this littoral cell is less seasonally dynamic than the beach in the Ka’anapali Littoral Cell to the north. The presently narrow beach, chronic erosion, and limited seasonal sand transport make this section of shoreline suitable for beach restoration.”

Plans call for installing 50,000 cubic yards of sand to restore the beach to the approximate position shown in a 1988 aerial photograph. This would widen the dry beach by between 41 and 78 feet.

The Ka’anapali Littoral Cell experiences significant seasonal sediment transport between Hanaka’o’o Point and Pu’u Keka’a.

According to the report, berm enhancement – raising the elevation of the beach berm – would create a stockpile of sand along the backshore to augment the current sediment system with additional volume.

Berm enhancement would provide a buffer during extreme erosion events by increasing beach sand volume.

The proposed project would use 25,000 cubic yards of sand to raise the beach berm elevation by 3.5 feet within the Ka’anapali Littoral Cell.

Approximately 75,000 cubic yards of sand needed for the proposed beach restoration and berm enhancement project would be recovered from an 8.5-acre sand deposit located approximately 150 feet offshore of Pu’u Keka?a (Black Rock) in water depths of 28 to 56 feet.

The proposed sand recovery method consists of a moored crane barge equipped with a clamshell bucket. The crane barge would lift sand from the seafloor and place it onto two 1,500-cubic-yard capacity deck barges.

These deck barges would be rotating between the sand deposit and the off-loading sites. Once a deck barge is filled at the sand deposit, it would be towed to the off-loading site, where it would be moored to an elevated trestle or floating bridge to shore.

Sand would be transferred to shore along the bridge/trestle system. Land-based equipment would transfer sand from the shoreline to the placement area for the sand to be spread along the shore and berm enhancement areas.

Approvals needed for the project include a Conservation District Use Permit, Clean Water Act Section 401 Water Quality Certification, Coastal Zone Management Act Consistency Determination, Department of the Army Permit (Section 10 and Section 404) and county Special Management Area Permit.

Environmental Impact Statements are intended to thoroughly study a project’s impact on the surrounding area.

During the period to submit comments for the DEIS, citizens raised several questions and issues:

1) How will the project affect canoe club and high school practices and races?

2) How will the beach restoration and sea level rise affect beach currents, and how will it impact nearby ecosystems and environments? What studies have been conducted to show that these natural coastal processes are not going to be magnified and sand washed away from the beaches soon after restoration?

3) “Section 2.1.15 (page 53), Cultural Impact Assessment, states: Hundreds, if not thousands, of iwi kupuna (ancestral remains) have been disturbed or displaced by resort construction on and around Pu’u Keka’a over the last 55 years. The general disrespect accorded to these burials during the modern era is considered an act of profound desecration by many members of the Hawaiian community. The prospect of disturbing additional burials during further ground disturbing construction activities may raise concerns among community members,” wrote Oahu resident Rocco Tramontano during the comment period for the DEIS preparation.

4) To reduce traffic and turbidity at the dredge site, have other dredging methods been considered, such as using hydraulic methods (suction) rather than the proposed mechanical (clamshell) method? Have any other transportation methods been considered, such as pipelining material vs. using a barge?

5) The rules for beach parking and access for each resort should be included in the final EIS and the approval of the project.

6) Make Hanakao’o Beach Park commercial-free.

7) Synchronize replenishment with natural sand migration patterns along the beach.

Lahaina resident Richard Roshon commented that dredging 75,000 cubic yards of sand from the ocean floor 150 feet out from Pu’u Keka’a is “beyond sanity.”

“My long distance daily swims take me a half mile offshore into the channel and back, swimming over the sand bottom adjacent to the Maui Kaanapali Villas north of Black Rock,” he wrote.

“It is not a desert of sand; there is life. There are highways of tracks made by sand crabs making their way and burying themselves, and also plant life or polyps, which are food for sea life,” Roshon continued.

“If the bottom is dredged, sand that is disturbed and not picked up will drift with the current, which moves north against the trade winds, and could possibly settle and not only cover the reefs at Kahekilli, or North Beach Park, but also eliminating food and shelter for those reef fish that depend on the reef. Is there anyone that cares?

“Let the beach go; for the most part, it always comes back. The sand will eventually wash away with storms, and will come back. You cannot hold back the seas. And yes, the beaches are receding, but shoring them up for short term???? Again, I think we are playing Russian Roulette.

“With sea level predicted to rise more than three feet by the end of this century, I would be more concerned when water and sand floods into the pools and hotels.”

The proposed project would add sand to the Pu’u Keka’a berm segment of the shoreline first during the fall.

Next, sand would be delivered to the Hanaka’o’o Littoral Cell beach restoration segment during the early winter. At that time, a portion of the sand that was placed at Pu’u Keka’a is anticipated to be redistributed under wave action.

The third phase of the project would place the remaining berm enhancement sand at Hanaka’o’o Point later in winter.

The time delay between Phase 1 and 3 is intended to help mitigate the oversaturation of the beach with sand and to allow the point to begin its winter growth season before placement operations.

During marine sand delivery operations, from the sand recovery barge to the off-loading sites, marine traffic and public access along the navigation route would be restricted.

When sand is installed, there would be heavy equipment operated on the beach at the transfer site and at the placement site. These areas would be treated as active construction sites, and public access would be limited near the heavy machinery and sand loading and grading areas.

The DEIS states, “During construction, which is expected to last approximately two months, sand recovery, transfer, and placement activities are expected to take place at least 12 hours per day, seven days per week. The goal is to complete the project in the most efficient manner possible, thereby limiting the inconvenience to the general public and construction related impacts to the environment.

“The work is projected to take place during October, November and part of December, minimizing overlap, as much as possible, with southern summer swell and norther winter swell environments.”

Public meetings will be held as part of the outreach work in the EIS process.