Severe erosion sparks safety concerns, unusual prevention measures along Waikiki beach

Local News

The erosion at Kuhio Beach in Waikiki has reached a new level.

“It’s ugly. It’s not what you really expect when you come to Hawaii. You want to see sand,” said Sabrina Kim, who is visiting from California.

“It’s kind of killing our business, killing the traffic coming to our stand,” said Waikiki beach boy Kevin Okimoto. “We have to walk around for our tourists to go into the ocean and enjoy our activities.”

The erosion even got the mayor’s attention when he saw it on Sunday.

“I’m not a scientist, but I’ll get a jackhammer in there and remove all the concrete that’s there creating this backwash and sucking out more sand, plus it’s just downright dangerous,” said Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell.

Dolan Eversole of the University of Hawaii Sea Grant College Program says in the 10 years that he’s been monitoring the beach, the erosion has never been this bad. He blames it on the king tides that we’ve had this summer along with elevated sea level.

“What happens is a lot more wave energy approaches the shoreline,” Eversole explained. “It’s allowed to run up much higher and cause more erosion that it normally would.”

He adds that the erosion has reached a layer of dirt that has led to brown water in the heart of Waikiki beach. He says there are no health concerns, but it looks bad.

It’s now to the point where officials are using some unusual methods to fight the problem.

Old carpets have been placed by the shoreline to help prevent the dirt from going in the ocean. The dirt caused the water to turn brown, so for now, the carpets are helping.

There is a long-term solution in the works, but the state wants to get together with the city, Waikiki businesses, and the surfing community before making a decision.

Eversole is working with the city and the state to put a sandbag groin nearby. He says the state took out two concrete groins in 2012 because they were falling apart, and that’s when the erosion started to happen.

“The use of a sandbag groin I think would be an appropriate response to the erosion here, depending on dimensions and the size of course. There needs to be careful thought and consideration to down drift impacts,” Eversole said.

Eversole says given the time needed to meet with the different parties and to get the permits, he is hoping to get that sand bag groin built here in six months.

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