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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, November 24, 2006

Waikiki sand plan waiting out waves

Advertiser Staff

Surf's up, so sand's still down.

A Waikiki sand replenishment project that's been stalled by high surf could get under way as soon as Monday if the weather and waves cooperate.

Up to 10,000 cubic yards of underwater sand will be pumped to a staging area on Kuhio Beach, dried out, then distributed to nearby areas that have eroded.

The $475,000 state project is expected to take up to a month to complete. Crews will need two days to set up equipment, and actual pumping of sand could begin by Wednesday.

"The contractor needs at least a five-day 'weather window' to remobilize and pump without having to stop for high surf," said Peter Young, chairman of the Department of Land and Natural Resources, in a news release.

The project had been scheduled to start early this month. The plan is to pump the offshore sand up during the day, and move dry sand to needed areas during the night, officials said.

The sand will come from an area beyond the surf break known as Canoes.

The staging area has been set up near the center of Kuhio Beach, roughly across Kalakaua Avenue from Saint Augustine Church.

Sand will be moved to three areas of Kuhio Beach: long stretches to the left and right of the staging area, and to a smaller patch near the hula mound.

An 82-foot barge will use high-pressure pumps to suck up sand from shallow water 2,000 feet offshore. It will be pumped to the beach though an underwater pipe.

Some surfers are worried that changing the contour of the ocean bottom could change the dynamics of the surf break. But officials say the break won't be affected.

Sand has been periodically moved onto Kuhio Beach since 1939 to make it more attractive.