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State Is Moving Ahead With Wailoa Harbor Dredging Project After Receiving Funding

Wailoa Small Boat Harbor is a state-owned facility in Hilo that is in line to be dredged, possibly in July.

Posted on March 27, 2024

The state hopes to begin a long awaited and badly needed dredging project at Wailoa Small Boat Harbor in Hilo this summer.

The Department of Land and Natural Resources said in a news release Monday that it has wanted to dredge the harbor for several years but it didn’t receive funding to do so until last year’s legislative session. The funds were released in January.

The Hawaii Fishermen’s Alliance for Conservation and Tradition demanded emergency dredging of the harbor during its meeting in Hilo earlier this month, according to the news release. More than 100 people from East Hawaii attended as well as Division of Aquatic Resources staff.

Meghan Stotts, assistant administrator of DLNR’s Division of Boating and Ocean Recreation, said in the release that there is no mechanism to do emergency dredging.

“We asked for funding for several years for Wailoa dredging, but we did not receive any until the 2023 Legislature,” she said. “If everything goes as planned and we get the necessary permits, in a best-case scenario we expect the dredging to commence sometime in July.”

East Hawaii resident Micah Gauthier wrote to Stotts last month saying because of hazardous conditions at Wailoa Harbor his boat sustained damage to its prop and shaft and possibly its rudder on Feb. 21.

“We have paid for slip usage, paid for harbor facilities, paid for DLNR services and expect our state agency to honor its code to ‘enhance, protect, conserve and manage.’ How do I submit a bill for repairs to our vessel due to the negligence of DLNR?” Gauthier wrote in an email.

Stotts wrote back and said he was welcome to sue the state. “If you would like to file a tort claim, you can do so,” she said.

The state has hired a consultant for the project and needs to get permission from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to dredge the harbor. Indications are that the federal agency will fast-track the permits, the release says.


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