Repaired, but eroding

KAPAA — For eight years, when Shirley Cooney would look out the window of the condo she owns at Pono Kai Resort, she’d see orange construction fences along the beach near the seawall.

In September, construction was completed and the fences came down, but Cooney says the erosion problem didn’t go away.

“They did not address where the major issue was and the way they stopped the seawall, now the waves come up behind it and it’s undermining the whole section,” Cooney said. “They might as well not have done anything.”

The county is still replacing sand that’s eroding near Pono Kai in Kapaa, even though they just completed a $950,000 project to restore the integrity of the seawall.

The issue stems from the scope of the project — which was limited to repairing the crumbling wall, not extending it.

According to Lyle Tabata, acting county engineer, the county has been getting complaints about the seawall since January.

He said the project’s consultant, Oceanit, recommended that the seawall be extended another 50 feet, but the existing permits didn’t allow for the extension.

“In order to do so, the county would have had to apply for additional permits,” Tabata said.

Those permits include the conservation district use permit, US Army Core of engineers permit, Department of Health clean water branch permit, and a special management area permit.

Peter Sit, general manager of Pono Kai, said what’s most important to him is that the repairs have been completed. He said extending the wall is a “whole different scenario.”

“It’s one of those things — it’s been eight years and I’ll take what I can get,” Sit said. “The seawall was critical and it was falling apart. There was a situation where people actually could get hurt.”

Now the county’s plan is to deposit sand after an erosion event washes it out to sea. Tabata said it usually takes between two and four weeks for the county to respond to an erosion event and replace the sand. He said the county obtained a 10-year permit from the Department of Land and Natural Resources for periodic beach nourishment.

“Episodic erosion is expected for a project of this nature, so we did develop a sand replenishment program to maintain the integrity of the seawall after it was repaired,” Tabata said.

Sit said grass is being planted on the pathway and trees are being trimmed to make sure the new grass has enough light.

“They can’t do it (replace the sand) until the grass grows because they’d mess up the water line, but after it grows the truck can go over the top of it,” Sit said. “Periodically they will come and refurbish the sand in the one area where it’s always being pulled out by the current.”

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