• Lis Richardson

Beach Nourishment Projects on Maui Beaches

Updated: Aug 8, 2020

‘Beach nourishment’ is a term used when beach-quality sand is delivered to a beach in order to replenish sand volume to that beach cell. It is often called for in areas where the natural cycle of sand distribution has been disrupted or depleted for some reason.

All the sand within a beach cell works for the protection of that coastal area. It is a common misunderstanding to think that dunes and sandy beaches present a wall-like physical barrier that protect our coastlines. It is actually the individual sand within the dunes that ultimately protects property. When the first waves hit a beach in a weather event, some of the sand is moved by the waves from the beach and deposited just off shore. That newly formed shallow-water area causes the subsequent waves to break further offshore lowering the impact of breaking waves on the near-shore beach.

A large volume of sand is important on a beach so the normal cycle can continue even with back-to-back storm events. Mother Nature supplies most of our beach sand to our shorelines by wind and waves but when the natural cycle is disrupted with devastating natural events or from a changing coastline due to development or revetments, beach nourishment is often the next best alternative.

UH Sea Grant on Maui monitors sand volume at our beaches and is instrumental in providing the science behind these natural processes so that man-made disruptions are avoided and beaches in peril can be identified for nourishment.

(Recently published in Maui News)