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Kuhio Beach Sand Replenishment Project

Honolulu, HI –The American Shore and Beach Preservation Association (ASBPA) announced that Kuhio Beach in Waikiki is a winner of its 2008 Best Restored Beach Award.

“ASBPA created the Best Restored Beach award in 2001 as a way of highlighting the value of America’s restored beaches,” said Harry Simmons, ASBPA president.  “As Americans flock to our coastline during the upcoming beach season, most don’t even realize they may be enjoying a restored beach.”

By restoring Kuhio Beach in Waikiki, which is world-renowned for its expanse of white sand and turquoise water, it served as a unique opportunity to demonstrate the value and effectiveness of “recycling” eroded sand as well as restoring a high-value recreational beach for both local residents and tourists alike.

Dolan Eversole, University of Hawai‘i Sea Grant College Program Coastal Geologist, spearheaded this project beginning in December 2006. The $475,000 pilot project dredged 10,000 cubic yards of sand from 2,000 feet offshore to three sites on Kuhio Beach. The sand, which had eroded due to wave action along the coast, enlarged the beach by as much as 40 feet and inflated it two-four feet vertically, keeping the beach dry in areas previously inundated with water. In addition, the project proved to be very cost-effective, cutting in half the cost of the old method of trucking sand in from elsewhere. It had no negative environmental consequences and, in the long-run, will likely prove to facilitate coral reefs ecosystem restoration in nearshore areas previously smothered by the eroded sand.   

“The Kuhio Beach restoration project continues to serve as a successful demonstration of the local technical capability, cost effectiveness and environmental soundness of using offshore sediment for local beach restoration” said Eversole.  “While it was never intended to provide a long-term solution to the local erosion problem in Waikiki, it has served its purpose as a pilot project and stimulated consideration of utilizing recycling eroded beach sands from offshore back to their respective littoral systems.”  

Beach restoration began taking place in America more than 40 years ago in coastal communities on the east, west and Gulf coasts. Beach restoration is the process of placing beach-quality sand on eroding beaches to reverse or offset the effects of erosion.

The three main reasons for restoration are storm protection (a wide sandy beach helps separate storm waves from upland structures and infrastructure), habitat restoration (numerous species rely on wide, healthy beaches as a place to live, feed and nest) and recreation (America’s beaches have twice as many visitors annually as all of America’s national parks combined). Studies have shown that for each dollar spent on beach restoration projects; at least $4 to $5 accrues back to taxpayers in benefits.

Coastal communities have restored more than 370 beaches in the United States, including such other iconic coastlines as Miami Beach, Coney Island and Southern California’s Venice Beach.

Coastal communities nominated their restoration projects for consideration, and an independent panel of coastal managers and scientists selected the winners. Judging was based on three criteria: the economic and ecological benefits the beach brings to its community; the short- and long-term success of the restoration project; and the challenges each community overcame during the course of the project.

Other beaches honored this year include: the beaches of Olympic Sculpture Park, Seattle, WA; Ocean Isle Beach, NC; North Boca Raton, FL; Destin & Walton County, FL; and Venice Beach, FL.

Past award winners include: Panama City Beach, FL, in 2002; San Diego Beach in 2003; Ocean City, MD, in 2004; the beaches of South Padre Island, TX, in 2005; Rehoboth and Dewey Beaches in Delaware in 2006; and the Chaland Headland Restoration Project, LA in 2007.