Long-awaited dredging of Hilo’s Wailoa Small Boat Harbor could begin this summer

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The long-awaited dredging of the Wailoa Small Boat Harbor, on Hawai‘i Island, could begin this summer, according to the state Department of Land and Natural Resources.

Initial funding for the project was released in January, a consultant has been hired and the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers indicated it will fast-track the required permitting process. If everything goes as planned dredging could commence sometime in July.

Wailoa Small Boat Harbor on Hawai‘i Island is pictured in an undated photo. (Courtesy of the state Department of Land and Natural Resources)

The DLNR Division of Boating and Ocean Recreation issued a “Notice to Proceed” for the consultant to begin planning and design work for dredging. The proposed July start date is dependent on no delays and the contractor being available to begin dredging immediately upon this issuance.

Issuance of the notice followed the March 21 submission, by DOBOR, of the draft permit application to the Army Corps. of Engineers, before execution of the consultant’s contract. The permit application will be amended after the consultant has completed water depth surveying and calculated dredging quantities.


Earlier this month, the Hawai‘i Fishermen’s Alliance for Conservation and Tradition hosted a community meeting in Hilo on various topics related to fishing and boating.

Primary concerns focused on Wailoa Small Boat Harbor. More than 100 people from the East Hawai‘i fishing and boating communities were in attendance and demanded emergency dredging of the harbor’s channel.

Although DOBOR was not present at the community meeting, assistant administrator Meghan Statts explained, “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.”


Statts added that the state has long been aware of community sentiment to clear the channel but could not move forward without funding from the state legislature.

“We invite concerned citizens to reach out to us at any time. On each island, the best way of doing that is to contact the respective district boating manager. We have provided the proposed timeline for the Wailoa dredging project and anyone who wants additional information just needs to ask,” Statts commented.

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