Friday, January 5, 2001
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Posted on: Friday, January 5, 2001

Island Voices
Don't mess with the sand at Waikiki

By Fred Van Dyke
Retired schoolteacher and active surfer

Waikiki is just about perfect now.

Swimmers seem satisfied and use the protected area inside the reef adjacent to Kuhio Beach. Surfers use the areas outside the reef and the protected wall that separates surfer and swimmer. Children play in the protected sandy area inside the wall.

There are no coral heads, no rocks. The movement of sand has been stable inside the man-made wall.

Waikiki is the gem of Hawaii. Looking out to sea at sunset takes everyone — tourist, swimmer, surfer, local resident — into a peaceful tranquility. Time seemingly stops, and one can reflect on "What is Hawaii?" You cannot improve on this.

Now there is a group that wants to change the very nature of Waikiki by putting more sand in front of existing hotels. Sam Lemmo is in the forefront of attempting to make these unneeded changes. He proposes three T-shaped groins that would open to the sea. The three could be the experiment preceding a group of T-shaped groins all the way to DeRussy.

Presently, the wall that protects inside swimmers has a minimal opening to release the surge that comes with surf. It is more than sufficient and has created no problems.

The T-shaped groins would create a perfect path for sucking the sand out to the reef, which then would become buried. We already have a problem with buildup of sand in reef areas that makes it sometimes dangerous to take tourists out in an outrigger canoe.

Opening the proposed groins to the sea would feed more sand to the reefs. Meanwhile, the children playing inside the "Ts" would be in the path to being sucked outside the protected area. A riptide is created by the force of the sea moving shoreward and taking the only path back to the sea.

An open groin is a perfect path. Imagine the T-shaped groins when you stand in the surf with whitewater rushing up around your ankles. When the water recedes, it digs a hole on either side of your feet, creating the same situation that the T groin would do — a riptide.

Waikiki is nearly perfect as is, pleasing to both surfer and swimmer. Please do not allow such a project to be foisted on the beach when all the experienced beach people already know it is doomed to failure. I won’t even get into the possibility of the many lawsuits that could result.

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