Hoping to slow the flow of sand off his island, Mayor Alan Arakawa has asked the Maui County Council to look at a moratorium on exporting sand.
WAILUKU, Hawaii Hoping to slow the flow of sand off his island, Mayor Alan Arakawa has asked the Maui County Council to look at a moratorium on exporting sand.
According to a report prepared for the county, local sources of sand -- the key ingredient in concrete -- may run out within five to seven years.
About 5.5 million tons of sand have been mined on Maui over the last two decades, according to the report prepared by consultant Howard Hanzawa for the county Department of Public Works and Environmental Management.
And while there is still plenty of sand left on the island, much of what remains is now inaccessible because it is located underneath development, according to the report.
The sand is a precious commodity used in Honolulu's booming construction industry -- more than 70 percent of the 318,000 tons mined annually is shipped to Honolulu. The sand is also the only material now available for local beach restoration projects.
As he gave council members a copy of the new report Friday, Arakawa asked the council to review "the option of declaring a moratorium on export of sand mined in Maui County to be explored in order to extend the life of Maui's remaining sand resources for Maui's people."
Council Member Michelle Anderson said she supports Arakawa's suggestion.
"Why should we be exporting sand to Oahu for more development, when we're going to need that sand to replenish our beaches?" she asked.
A beach management plan adopted by the county in 1998 called for restricting sand exports. The county might also need to restrict development on the inland dunes to preserve them as a resource, she said.
If there isn't sand to restore its famed beaches, the island's economy is in danger of taking a hit, Anderson said.
Council Member Dain Kane said he needs to know more about what legal powers the county has to regulate or restrict sand mining and exporting. But he said he will look at the moratorium idea.
"If that's what it's going to take to preserve our resource, then in concept that's something we can consider," he said.
Eric Yoshizawa, vice president of Ameron Hawaii, has said that the company doesn't plan to conserve sand it is excavating for the undeveloped dunes because it would be too expensive to stockpile for longer than five years.
Source: Associated Press