HONOLULU – On Tuesday, September 15, the Hawai‘i State Senate fulfilled a key promise to the people of Hawai‘i by mitigating the threat posed by coastal zone erosion, and rising sea levels.
The convergence of dense development along shorelines, increasing landward migration of shoreline due to sea level rise and other human and natural impacts, and extensive beach loss fronting shoreline armoring necessitated the revision of existing policies and regulations. Research conducted during the drafting of the recently enacted legislation found: 70% of HI’s beaches are undergoing chronic sand loss and shoreline retreat, more than 13 miles of beach in Hawai‘i have been completely lost to erosion fronting seawalls and, most alarmingly, with just 1.1 feet of sea level rise, miles more of beach could be lost to erosion if widespread shoreline armoring is allowed.
The enacted legislation includes an important provision to ban further construction of sea walls, and coastal hardening projects on beaches. Revision of these existing policies and regulations would protect beaches and other coastal environments from further degradation and reduce the exposure of shorefront communities to increasing erosion and flooding hazards caused by sea level rise.