Hanalei river project resumes

LIHUE — State regulators have resumed work at a Hanalei River restoration project site after a week of inactivity due to heavy rainfall.

Wet conditions at the site, located on state land above the Hanalei Wildlife Refuge, halted restoration work from Friday, Sept. 11 to Thursday, Sept. 17.

During that time the project contractor removed turbidity barriers from the river to prevent them from washing downstream, according to the Department of Land and Natural Resources’ Engineering Division. The turbidity barriers were reinstalled Thursday morning when construction resumed.

There have been no recent sediment control issues at the project site and none of the stockpiled sediment washed into the river during the week of wet weather, according to the contractor. All on-site stockpiled materials are covered with plastic sheeting to prevent the migration of the material, a requirement enforced by the state Department of Health.

There are approximately four weeks of work remaining, pending good weather, DLNR officials said. This does not include the maintenance period for the landscaping.

The riverbank stabilization project has a goal of returning the river back to its original form by restoring the 100-foot section of eroded stream bank located on state land above the refuge.

The project will also ensure a consistent flow of water in the Hanalei River, which is the primary source used for taro cultivation and wetland habitat within the refuge, according to Carty Chang, administrator of DLNR’s Engineering Division.

More than 30,000 tons of eroded soil and sediment have fallen into Hanalei Bay since the river jumped its banks in 1995, according to DLNR.

If left untreated, DLNR says the river would continue to carve a new channel across private and state-owned properties, and ultimately leave 1,000 feet of the Hanalei River dry.

Over the years, flood flows have repeatedly broken through emergency repairs, with the breach channel expanding after every major flood, according to DLNR.

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