Honolulu city and Waikiki beach in the pacific island of Oahu in Hawaii
Credit: Getty Images

Oahu’s Waikiki Beach is iconic. Surfers head to the water, shoppers seek out high-end boutiques, and just about everyone wants to walk along the white sandy shore and get their photo taken. But that might all change in the next several years as water levels rise and scientists say frequent flooding is imminent.

According to a 2017 report by the Hawaiʻi Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation Commission that was updated in September 2018, the capital of Honolulu, Waikiki Beach, and several coastal areas on Hawaii’s five islands will experience frequent flooding within 15 to 20 years.

According to lawmakers, the water levels have already risen more than 6 inches in recent decades. The 2017 report estimates that as the Earth heats up and water expands there will be a 3-foot rise in Hawaii’s sea level by 2100. This rise would threaten over 6,000 buildings and 20,000 people with chronic flooding across the five islands.

"This flooding will threaten $5 billion of taxable real estate; flood nearly 30 miles of roadway; and impact pedestrians, commercial and recreation activities, tourism, transportation, and infrastructure," said Shellie Habel, lead author of the 2017 study, in a release on Science Daily.

To protect Waikiki Beach, Honolulu, and the state’s coastline, AP reports that Hawaii’s state Senate and House of Representatives passed a bill that calls for a shoreline protection plan. If approved, the bill would utilize $4 million to fund a pilot project to build-up and protect the shoreline.