ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACTS ON AN ISLAND COMMUNITY

Gordon A. Chapman

Abstract


The environmental impacts of coastal engineering projects generally affect island communities to a greater degree than they would affect continental land mass communities. This occurs because of the smaller land area; close interdependence and interaction of land and sea communities, both natural and human; and relatively small projects having relatively large overall impacts on island ecosystems. The natural flora and fauna of Pacific Islands have developed rather precariously unbalanced communities that are extremely fragile and susceptible to change, both natural and man induced. This susceptibility dictates that, where possible, man induced or proposed changes, such as coastal engineering projects, should be designed such that as little change as possible occurs to the natural environment. Additionally, the natural resources of island communities are generally limited and this too dictates that conservation practices be employed that assure the highest and best use of those limited resources. The purpose of this paper is to indicate the environmental effects of a major coastal engineering project on an island community. This will be accomplished by describing the environmental quality control monitoring program that has been performed as an integral part of the Honolulu International Airport (HIA) Reef Runway construction project on Oahu, Hawaii, and presenting the initial findings of that environmental monitoring program. The Honolulu International Airport reef runway planning and design began in earnest in 1968 and 1969 with hydrographic and topographic surveys, foundation investigations, two- and three-dimensional hydraulic model studies, and environmental studies that were conducted (J. K. K. Look, 1970; Berger, 1971; Sunn, et_ al_, 1969). These studies, and others, were utilized to determine the technical feasibility, and to gather the engineering and environmental data for final design and construction. The Reef Runway, located south of the HIA runway system on the fringing coral reef, seaward of Keehi Lagoon, in Mamala Bay, is 12,000 feet long and 200 feet wide. The runway and taxiway complex is protected from the sea by a 16,000-foot long protective structure constructed of rock and dollose (Figure 1).

Keywords


environmental impact; island community

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