HI - Hawaii OCCL Updates About Coastal Erosion

HONOLULU, HI (STL.News) The options available to land managers and owners of coastal properties facing serious beach erosion are limited, expensive, and unlikely to provide permanent fixes. That’s one of the conclusions of a presentation to the Board of Land and Natural Resources last Friday.

“The challenges are mounting to the degree that DLNR will need to clarify its goals and focus its effort accordingly to effectively steward coastal resources,” Habel said.

She detailed the current state of beach erosion across Hawai‘i, citing government and academic reports that indicate 70% of the beaches on Maui, Kaua‘i, and O‘ahu are chronically eroding.  By 2012, over 13-miles of beach had completely disappeared due to erosion and seawall construction.

The causes vary from beach to beach and include long-term changes in sea level, mining of sand, seawalls, landscaping, and natural and seasonal changes in sand movement.  Habel reported that sea level rise and seasonal erosion are beyond anyone’s control and said one-foot of sea level rise can mean the shoreline moves inland by 50-to-100-feet.

Beach erosion is a global problem and can be attended to in three basic ways; none of which are easy or inexpensive and have trade-offs.

  • Shoreline hardening – a historical response using hard structures. Has led to widespread beach loss and impacts to neighboring properties that are unarmored.
  • Shoreline retreat – Shifting development inland. Controversial globally and no effective examples to date.

Read more.