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Maui County Begins Coastal Resilience Planning for Mā’alaea


September 18, 2021, 9:15 a.m. HST
* Updated September 18 at 7:54 a.m.

Port / Bay of Māʻalaea. Archive photo courtesy of DLNR.

A project to initiate a coastal resilience and erosion management plan for the village of Mā’alaea is underway, the Maui County Planning Department said.

The project seeks a proactive and holistic approach to manage the worsening coastal erosion on the beach of Mā’alaea Bay by exploring the feasibility of coastal resilience strategies, including erosion mitigation options and the relocation of threatened structures. The project area stretches from the port of Māʻalaea to Haycraft Park.

Starting Tuesday, September 21, contractors from Moffat & Nichol in Honolulu will conduct a sand resource survey off the port of Māʻalaea. The study aims to identify, characterize and quantify possible sources of offshore sand that could support beach restoration options for Mā’alaea Bay Beach. During the construction, members of the public can see a small boat with instruments making round trips in the coastal waters off Māʻalaea.

To explore managed retirement options, entrepreneurs will develop an analysis of the planning steps involved in the relocation of buildings and infrastructure.

High rates of historic shoreline erosion are documented for Māʻalaea Bay Beach. Condominium complexes along Hau’oli Street built near the shore before coastal management programs are threatened by coastal risks. The existing shoreline hardening structures are in a state of deterioration and some need to be removed or temporarily repaired.

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This 12-month project is facilitated by the Maui County Planning Department with technical assistance from the University of Hawai’i Sea Grants Program and financial support from Maui County Council.

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The association of the village of Māʻalaea also provides support to the partnership.

This coastal resilience community planning effort will provide next steps and proactive options to protect at-risk properties and infrastructure as well as to preserve the coastal ecosystem.

County officials say coastal erosion in Hawai’i is a persistent and worsening problem in the face of rising sea levels, with 85% of Maui’s shorelines experiencing long-term erosion.


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