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Erosion worries rising

KAPAA — A foundation left over from a 2017 project to remove the Kapaa Beach Park pavilion is now cracked in half and falling into the surf after weekend waves and weather caused damage on the east side.

It’s part of a shoreline strewn with fallen trees and dangerously exposed roots along the Kapaa/Wailua corridor, coastal erosion due to big waves, high winds and high tides that have been ongoing since Thursday.

Monday, longtime Kauai resident Lee Evslin said it’s the most erosion he’s seen along that stretch of shoreline, but wasn’t quite sure what it means for the future.

“The damage to the banks along the Kapaa shore is dramatic, trees that have stood for many decades toppling into the sea and the sand overtaking many yards of grassy areas,” Evslin said Monday. “I know unusually high tides and weeks of onshore surf and wind are the immediate cause but it may be a scary harbinger of a future of rising seas and climate change.”

Kauai’s coastal land use extension agent, Ruby Pap, said it’s the most erosion she’s seen in the seven or eight years she’s been working on the island, too, especially at Wailua.

She surmises the erosion is the result of a combination of local events, including high water levels and higher tides.

Pap also points out dramatic erosion events do occasionally occur in the Kapaa and Wailua areas.

“Historically, the data shows (Wailua beach) it’s an accreting beach but it does have periods of episodic erosion where we lose a bunch of sand,” Pap said. “In 2012 there was an episodic erosion event at Wailua and everyone was concerned. The beach eventually recovered.”

Currently the erosion is lengthening Department of Parks and Recreation to-do list of repairs and mitigation work, though, and conditions aren’t expected to improve until later this week.

Monday, DOPR confirmed the most significant storm damage on Kauai has been on the east side “other than minor fallen tree limbs and debris routinely cleaned/trimmed by our caretakers.”

Coastal damage started on Thursday, when rough weather and seas converged on Kauai. Friday, county workers blocked off a small segment of the multi-use path because of concerns that some coconut and ironwood trees could fall onto the path.

They also started the process to remove fallen trees from the shoreline, which lie in a special management area and requires additional approval before work can start.

“Today, the barriers are still in place with minor adjustments made to localize four clustered coconut trees that have been undermined with the potential of falling onto the path,” DOPR said in a statement to TGI on Monday. “So far, we have not cut any trees as the Determination Request is pending Planning Dept. approval.”

DOPR is aware of the cracked slab that used to serve as the foundation for the Kapaa Beach Park pavilion and said that foundation will “eventually” be removed based on availability of resources and SMA permits and clearance from Planning Department.

But that might not be the highest priority for DOPR.

High tide on Monday morning combined with rough surf started to undermine the county shower in the Kapaa/Wailua Beach Corridor, by Kapaa Beach Park. County workers had to shut off water to the main shower.

National Weather Service has a high-surf advisory that is expected to remain through Thursday morning, and DOPR said staff is working on responding to and mitigating damage.

That means trimming trees and vegetation in anticipation of “unfavorable surf and weather.”

“Public safety remains a priority for the Parks department,” a DOPR statement said Monday. “DOPR is continuing to assess the situation and address any imminent hazard based on available resources.”

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Jessica Else, staff writer, can be reached at 245-0452 or at jelse@thegardenisland.com
Source: The Garden Island

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