Wednesday, January 4, 2012

What’s a Beach Worth Without Sand?

Waikiki Beach is worth big money.

Big enough money that the state, the Tourism Authority and the Kyo-Ya hotel chain are replenishing the beach by moving about 24,000 cubic yards of sand from deposits 1,500 to 3,000 feet offshore at depths of 10 to 20 feet.

A visitor industry study calculated that if the beach were allowed to erode, there would be a $2 billion loss in overall annual visitor expenditures, a $150 million loss in tax revenue and a job loss affecting 6,350 people.

So, next Monday and over the next three months it will cost $2.3 million to replenish 1,730 feet of beach shoreline from the Royal Hawaiian Hotel to the Duke Kahanamoku statue.

A suction pump guided by an excavator arm will draw sand from the ocean floor.

The sand and water will be pumped to shore through a six-inch discharge pipe.

The sand and water mixture will be deposited in an onshore collection area and dried.

After drying, the sand will be sent down a plastic pipe running along the beach and pumped by air on the beach to add about 37 feet of shoreline.

The process promises be minimally disruptive to beachgoers.

Anybody think this might not be a good idea? Nope. The local Surfrider Foundation says it isn’t for or against the project but wants a comprehensive plan for Waikiki beaches, including enhanced beach access and water quality.

Make it so.

--Mike Sato

1 comment:

  1. I believe this type of beach "nourishment" has been a common practice along some of our beaches in the southeast. I don't know if any environmental studies have been conducted on the impacts of such practices, whether on the beach, the source of the sand, and fish and wildlife. Note the bulkhead in the photo used in the story; armoring tends to contribute to loss of beach area.

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