Maui Discussion

Ask the Mayor: Why is Maui Still Exporting Sand?

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Mayor Alan Arakawa answers some of the questions submitted to his staff.

Submit your own questions about County of Maui programs, services, operations or policies to Mayor Alan Arakawa at [email protected], 270-7855 or mail them to 200 S. High St., 9th Floor, Wailuku, HI 96793.

Questions submitted will be considered for inclusion in the “Ask the Mayor” column.

Dear Mayor,


Q: When you were mayor in 2006 and your administration requisitioned the Maui Inland Sand Resource Quantification Study, you responded with genuine concern for this precious resource and suggested a moratorium, or at least a halt of all sand mining until further assessment.

However, 11 years later, nearly all of the sand dunes have been demolished. You have since been re-elected and I see no efforts on your part to enact a moratorium or at least limit the sand mining.

Please explain why you allow all of this sand to be trucked and barged to O‘ahu?

Maui is running out of sand. Countless burial sites have been destroyed. Why has this happened?


A: I consulted with UH-Sea Grant Extension Agent Tara Owens about this, and according to Tara the export of inland dune sands continues to be a matter of concern, both from a cultural and a natural resource perspective.

As a brief history, the 2006 Maui Inland Sand Resource Quantification study estimated that roughly a five-year supply of inland dune sand remained, and that 70% of excavated sand was being shipped to O‘ahu.

In an attempt to address resource concerns, the study was then transmitted to the County Council urging the council to impose a moratorium on sand exports until legislation could be crafted to better conserve the resource.

Records indicate that the council took up the discussion in late 2006, but was unable to find a way to create an ordinance to limit sand exports.


Sand is still being excavated and exported from Central Maui dunes.

In an attempt to compile current information on the export rate since the 2006 study, a recent records request was filed to find out the number of sand shipments leaving Kahului Harbor since 2007. The information indicates that there are about half as many sand-filled barges leaving Kahului Harbor annually compared to the year 2006 and prior, but the quantities are still significant.

It is our current understanding that excess sand from grading on the Maui Lani Partners land is being retained for use within the development. Additionally, we understand that an archaeological monitoring plan should have been reviewed and approved by SHPD as a condition of a current grading permit.

We will follow up on both issues to verify that information.


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