Failing Kawaihae breakwater gets funding

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A failing breakwater at the North Kawaihae Small Boat Harbor could finally receive some attention.

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A failing breakwater at the North Kawaihae Small Boat Harbor could finally receive some attention.

Long-time users of the area say the wall of rock — now barely above the ocean’s surface makai of the harbor — once stood tall enough to break the force of pounding winter surf. In more recent years, the barrier has been ineffective, and storms have swept into the harbor, sanding in the boat ramp, filling the parking lot and street with rubble and damaging infrastructure.

That could begin to change with $400,000 in planning money that was placed in the state’s biennial budget. Kohala Rep. Cindy Evans, who requested the money, said on Saturday it’s time for the state to actually address the problem rather than continually dump money into repairs and dredging.

“I’ve been trying to bring money to fix the harbor for years,” Evans said. “It gets trashed every time a storm comes through.”

A long lasting swell train of 15- to 20-foot waves lashed the harbor in January, leaving stumps, rocks and up to a foot of sand on the harbor road and parking lot. The waves damaged docks and undermined the head of the boat ramp.

Even when the delayed boat ramp at the South Kawaihae Small Boat Harbor is finally installed, the north ramp will still be needed, especially for smaller boats and canoes, Evans said. The south harbor opened with a 435-foot-long floating dock last fall, but the planned installation of a ramp was delayed by the discovery of coral. The ramp, part of a planned $1.5 million third phase of the harbor, is under redesign.

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A newly installed fence now clearly delineates the boundaries of the south harbor and shows where more work needs to be done, Evans said.

“It still looks rough,” she said. “Now that the boundaries are defined, we need to build it up into a recreational boat harbor.”

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