Major repairs planned for Coconut Island

Moku o Lo’e, or Coconut Island, was made famous in the opening shot of “Gilligan’s Island.”

On the show, the island was deserted, but in reality, it’s home to a research facility used by the Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology (HIMB).

“Every time I go across that area, I’m thinking, I’m so lucky to be here,” said HIMB director Jo’Ann Leong. “It’s just a gorgeous place and it’s one of the only places we can do some of the research that we’re doing to help save the reefs.”

But if you look beyond it’s beauty and into what keeps the facilities running each day, you’ll notice they’re in need of some repairs.

Sewage lines at Coconut Island
Sewage lines at Coconut Island

“We had a minor sewage spill two years ago. It told us that we needed to do something about it right away,” said Leong.

“We’re almost positive that leak was caused by an anchor hitting that pipe,” said Jim Lakey, marine lab supervisor.

Currently, the institute is focused on fixing the sewage lines and pump station. The lines run across the bottom of the bay. If the project is approved, the sewer line will be placed between 20 to 30 feet below the sand.

“If we don’t take care of the sewage, then it’s a matter of time before we’re going to have a sewage spill,” Leong said.

While the $5.4 million sewage work is first on the agenda, next they will look at fixing other problems like erosion.

Currently Leong says the island is eroding at a rate of about one foot per year. They’ll counter that problem by building a seawall.

“All of these projects are fully funded with support from the governor the legislature and the university,” said Lakey.

“It makes a world of difference in terms of the safety of our researchers as well as what their capable of and it means so much to me to get that done,” said Leong.

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