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Long-Anticipated Dredging Begins At Wailoa Small Boat Harbor

Posted on July 10, 2024

(HILO, HAWAI‘I) – A $3.1 million dredging operation at the Wailoa Small Boat Harbor started yesterday and is expected to be complete by the end of the year, if not sooner.

Depending on the location, sediment build up and available funding, the DLNR Division of Boating and Ocean Recreation (DOBOR) attempts to conduct dredging operations in state small boat harbors every five to eight years.

Dredging at Wailoa became a critical concern for Hawai‘i Island boaters after the Pohoiki ramp was surrounded by lava during the 2018 Kīlauea eruption.

DOBOR, hearing community input, fast tracked the contracting, permitting and design process, which could only begin once the legislature appropriated funding and Governor Green released those funds.

DOBOR Engineer Finn McCall explained, “It’s a multistep process. The first thing that has to happen is funds have to be allocated. Once the funds are appropriated there then has to be a request to release the funds and that takes time. Only when the funds are released can we actually begin actions on a project. That includes design, permitting, and environmental reviews.” The process for Wailoa was about five months, compared to the nine months it normally takes.

So far this week, a shore-based excavator and front-end loader are moving dark brown soil from the harbor basin and spreading it along the shoreline, where ultimately it will be trucked away.

A barge carrying an excavator will move into the basin proper in the next few weeks, and while lengthy closures are not anticipated, McCall said he expects there will be periodic, short closures as the barge moves around.

DOBOR Administrator Meghan Statts added, “The frequency of dredging really depends on the amount of debris and sediment that flows into a harbor. That material can block boats and create safety hazards. We’re excited this project is underway and ask for everyone’s continued patience as the work proceeds over the next few months.”


HD video – Wailoa Small Boat Harbor dredging (July 9, 2024):

HD video – Wailoa Small Boat Harbor dredging SOTS (July 9, 2024):

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Photographs – Wailoa Small Boat Harbor dredging (July 9, 2024):


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