Maui News

Offshore Sand Sought to Mitigate Erosion at Kahana Bay

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Sandbag barrier in Kahana where condominium properties are threatened by erosion and high waves. File image 2017 Credit: Tara Owens via PacIOOS.

A 157-page Environmental Impact Statement Preparation Notice has been filed to address erosion mitigation at Kahana Beach in west Maui.

Nine oceanfront condominiums and one kuleana parcel along the Kahana Bay coastline have joined together in seeking a solution to severe coastal erosion that the applicant attributes to sea level rise, frequent storm events, and past construction of individual seawalls and shoreline armoring.

The nine condominiums include Kahana Village, Kahana Outrigger, Kahana Reef, Pohailani, Hololani, Royal Kahana, Valley Isle Resort, Sands of Kahana, and the Kahana Beach Resort.

The Kahana Bay Steering Committee (which represents those owners) in consultation with the Maui County Planning Department, plans to restore, rehabilitate and preserve the sandy beach along Kahana Bay by nourishing it with 50,000-100,000 cubic yards of sand transported from previously identified offshore “borrow areas.”


According to the document, the sand would be sourced from nearby offshore sand deposits.  A 2016 Feasibility Study conducted by the County of Maui identified three sites off of Pōkaku “S-Turns” Beach
as having compatible sand.

Proposed Dredge Limits. Site 18 is located approximately 2,000 ft offshore and is estimated to contain 17,000 cy of sand; Site 19 is located approximately 500 ft offshore and also contains approximately 17,000 cy of sand; and Site 22 is located approximately 400 ft offshore and contains approximately 45,000 cy of sand. PC: Kahana Bay Erosion Mitigation EISPN.

According to the EISPN, the proposed transport of sand would require the use of a barge or pipeline. Benefits and downfalls of each option were also weighed in the EISPN document.

“Beach sand will be retrieved from borrow areas located offshore and a barge or pipeline will be used to transport the sand to shore. Depending on how the sand is transported (i.e., hydraulically or mechanically), a sand/water slurry may need to be dewatered prior to placement along the beach profile. Earth moving equipment will build a temporary settling basin on or near the beach if hydraulic pumping is used to transport sand. Due to the presence of shallow reef areas, barge access from the ocean to the beach may not be feasible.”

The plan also “envisages” the construction of structures to extend from the shoreline seaward to retain the nourished sand and stabilize the beach.


Applicants of the beach nourishment project say mitigation efforts would widen the existing beach by 35 to 150 feet.  Applicants note that the sandy beach area is under state jurisdiction, while the area up to three miles offshore is considered open water and falls under both state and federal jurisdiction.

According to the EISPN, the project is estimated to cost between $10 million and $20 million. Construction would begin after all permits and government approvals are obtained with the construction period projected in the late summer or fall of 2020.

The EISPN also outlines potential funding options including consideration of a newly established ordinance in December of 2018 that allows the county to create a special taxing district to finance improvements.

“Maui County enacted an ordinance effective December 26, 2018 that allows for Community Facilities Districts (CFD). Pursuant to Maui County Code 3.75, the County Council now has the ability to create special taxing districts to finance public improvements, including through the issuance of County special tax bonds. The CFD allows the County, by action of the County Council, to form a special taxing district and include specific benefiting properties to fund public improvements.


“Benefiting property owners can also petition the County to form a CFD. Although no CFD has yet been formed for Kahana Bay, it could potentially serve as a financing mechanism at some future juncture for the applicant and its condominium owners to pay for the erosion mitigation project proposed. The formation of a CFD would only affect owners of properties defined in the district which would subject to the special tax, and these owners have the right to protest the tax.”

Additional studies that are anticipated include an additional sand study, a cultural impact assessment, an archaeological inventory survey, traffic assessment and parking analysis as well as other assessment studies.

The latest EISPN is a second, revised version to one that was issued in March. Changes in the new document include: an upwards cost analysis adjustment; a description of additional sand quality studies that will be performed as part of the Draft Environmental Impact Statement; a description of what a Communities Facilities District entails; triggers of an EIS clarified; among other revisions.

A 30-day public-comment period continues through Aug. 22, 2019.  Comments should be sent to comments to:

  • the approving agency (Department of Land and Natural Resources, State of Hawai‘i
    Samuel Lemmo, Administrator, Office of Conservation and Coastal Lands, (808) 587-0377, [email protected] PO Box 621, Honolulu, HI 96809-0621)
  • with a copy to the applicant (The Kahana Bay Steering Committee (KBSC); 10 Hoʻohui Rd., Suite 201, Lahaina, HI 96761)
  • and a copy to the consultant (Oceanit; 828 Fort Street Mall, Suite 600, Honolulu, HI, 96813 (808) 531-3017, [email protected]).

The full EISPN document is available for review at the following direct LINK.


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