Hawaii proposes $2M Hanalei River restoration plan


HANALEI, Kauai (AP) — The state has proposed spending nearly $2 million restoring a 100-foot section of eroded stream bank on Kauai’s Hanalaei River.

The Department of Land and Natural Resources says a breach dating back to the mid-1990s is polluting the environment, degrading the stream and reef and reducing water flows to nearby taro fields and wildlife refuge.

Flood flows have repeatedly broken through emergency repairs. The breach channel has also expanded with every major flood.

If left untreated, the department said the river will carve a new channel across private and state-owned properties and ultimately leave 1,000 feet of the Hanalei River dry.

Brian Dick, who works for Aecom, the consulting firm hired to help the department restore the bank, didn’t want to say definitively what’s causing the erosion.

“But I don’t think it’s a natural process. I’ll definitively answer that,” said Dick, who is a geomorphologist or scientist who studies the evolution of land forms.

The proposal includes removing about 400 feet of boulders and rock from the main river channel and restoring the eroded channel to its pre-damaged configuration. Native vegetation would be planted to stabilize the restored embankment.

Dick said the repairs will hold.

“For me, this one doesn’t have a lot of uncertainty,” he said. “I know I can put that plug in place and it will stay there, for mine and your lifetime.”

One caveat, he said, is that the arrival of the next hurricane must be delayed long enough for the vegetation to take root and stabilize the embankment.

About 25 people attended a public meeting Tuesday in Hanalei to hear the plans for the repairs.

Engineers are currently finishing project plans and designs. Major permits and approvals are pending. The project is scheduled to begin in April.

 

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