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70 percent of Oahu, Maui, and Kauai beaches eroding

By Catherine Cruz
Published On: May 07 2012 06:30:00 PM HST

A new report shows erosion is taking a toll on some island beaches.

HONOLULU -

The most extreme case of beach erosion is on Oahu.

At Kualoa, the beaches are eroding at a rate of six feet a year.
A picnic table which used to be in the park, is now in the ocean.

The shoreline has eroded so badly the city was forced to shut down one of its bathroom facilities.
Oahu has lost 60 percent of its beaches.
Coastal erosion is also bad on Kauai, which has lost 71 percent of its shoreline.
On Maui, the greatest extent of beach loss is at 85 percent.

"We have to realize that the economy is the environment and beaches are the bases for the economy, It is about maintaining the beaches so they continue in the future so this study is a red flag that we need to refocus our efforts on that goal," said Charles Fletcher, lead scientist on the decade-long study.

The state recently ordered the property owner of a beachfront parcel in Kahala to remove the sandbags placed on the beach. While it may have prevented the parcel from washing away, the state maintains it has sped up erosion of the beach on either side of it.

Fletcher produced a map showing how much of the shoreline has washed away... the black lines represent where the sand used to extend out to. The red line marks where it is today.

"There are places where the seawalls have been built and you won’t see any beach in front there is all water and that’s 9% of the shoreline on three islands where the beach has been completely washed out," said Fletcher.

Fletcher says Kauai has taken the biggest leap forward and now leads the nation in the most conservative shoreline setback for new construction--at 75 feet.
Most places on Oahu are 60 feet, and in some places it’s only 20.
Sand replenishment projects, like what was recently completed in Waikiki, are expensive.
Add coastal erosion to rising sea levels and some say there may be an added sense of urgency to coastal management.

The study was complied by the University of Hawaii School of Ocean Earth and  Science and Technology and the U.S. Geological Survey using maps and aerial photographs and measuring more than 12,000 locations across the state.

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