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Pohoiki Boat Ramp - Key Steps Identified and Dredging Everything

12:35 AM · Sep 15, 2022

WRITTEN AFTER CONVERSATION WITH JOHN KATAHIRA, PROJECT LEAD ON THE POHOIKI BOAT RAMP DREDGE. Last month, John Katahira from Limtaco Consulting Group led a presentation in Pāhoa where three different options for dredging the Pohoiki Boat Ramp were shared for public comment. After much discussion with the community, all the three options presented for removing the tons of sand inundating Pohoiki Bay were deemed inadequate. Instead, the decision has been made to pursue a 4th option - the dredge everything option. The plan now is to take out as much of the sand and rock out of Pohoiki Bay as possible, starting with the edge of the new lava flow northeast of the beach and continuing down to the southern end of Second Bay. In an article posted by West Hawaiʻi Today on August 29th, DLNR-DOBAR Project Engineer Finn McCall was quoted as saying “our goal is to dredge as much as we can while still being allowed under our permit.” Known as the Nationwide Permit, this general permit authorizes activities across the country for existing coastal maintenance and falls under the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE). In a subsequent meeting after the article was printed, it was made known that USACE is open to the idea of dredging everything under the Nationwide Permit, but cannot make that determination without an official application. That meeting made the State and consultants aware of the determination made by USACE that Federal jurisdiction does not extend inland of the high-water mark, meaning the inundation of sand in 2018-2019 altered the jurisdiction of Pohoiki bay. An estimated 70% of the loose material to be removed would therefore be within the State’s jurisdiction. Currently, the Pre-Design Draft Report on the Pohoiki dredge is being revised to include the 4th option to “dredge everything”, and can be expected to be completed and released to the public around the end of September. A preliminary cost estimate of $40 million places the “dredge everything” option as more expensive than simply digging a channel through the sand and hoping it doesn’t refill (Option 1 & 2), but less expensive than building jetties to protect the bay, represented by Option 3 presented at the August 18th community meeting in Pāhoa. However, since money for this project has not been allocated by the State, work will likely have to wait for the next legislative session for funding, which could allow dredging to begin sometime in summer 2023. FEMA could reimburse the State of Hawaiʻi for up to 75% of the project’s cost, but the State will need to support the full cost of the project up front. The “dredge everything” option may need to be scaled back depending on funding being secured. These are the key steps needed to restore sustainable access to the third most productive fishery area in the State prior to the 2018 eruption, relieve the burden on community fishermen, and to continue the valued cultural traditions that have led Pohoiki to be treasured by so many. Image is a crude idea of the preliminary scope of the dredging project under option 4. This is unofficial, but it is roughly the looking area to be removed under "dredge everything".

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