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Ground water and surface water in the Haiku area, East Maui, Hawaii

January 1, 1999

The Haiku study area lies on the gently sloping eastern flank of the East Maui Volcano (Haleakala) between the drainage basins of Maliko Gulch to the west and Kakipi Gulch to the east. The study area lies on the northwest rift zone of East Maui Volcano, a geologic feature 3 to 5 miles wide marked by surface expressions such as cinder, spatter, and pumice cones. The study area contains two geologic units, the main shield-building stage Honomanu Basalt and the Kula Volcanics. The hydraulic conductivity of the Honomanu Basalt was estimated to be between 1,000 and 3,600 feet per day on the basis of aquifer tests and 3,300 feet per day on the basis of the regional recharge rate and observed ground-water heads. The hydraulic conductivity of the Kula Volcanics is expected to be several orders of magnitude lower.

An estimated 191 million gallons per day of rainfall and 22 million gallons per day of fog drip reach the study area and about 98 million gallons per day enters the ground-water system as recharge. Nearly all of the ground water currently withdrawn in the study area is from well 5520-01 in Maliko Gulch, where historic withdrawal rates have averaged about 2.8 million gallons per day. An additional 18 million gallons per day of ground-water withdrawal is proposed.

Flow in Waiohiwi Gulch, a tributary to Maliko Gulch, is perennial between about 2,000 ft and 4,000 ft altitude. At lower altitudes in Maliko Gulch, flow is perennial at only a few spots downstream of springs and near the coast. The Kuiaha and Kaupakulua Gulch systems are usually dry from sea level to an altitude of 350 feet and gain water from about 350 feet to about 900 feet altitude. The two main branches of the Kaupakulua Gulch system alternately gain and lose water as high as 2,400 feet altitude. Kakipi Gulch has perennial flow over much of its length but is often dry near the coast below 400 feet altitude.

Fresh ground water occurs in two main forms: (1) as perched high-level water held up by relatively low-permeability geologic layers, and (2) as a freshwater lens floating on denser, underlying saltwater. The rocks beneath the contact between the Kula Volcanics and the underlying Honomanu Basalt and above the freshwater lens appear to be unsaturated on the basis of several observations: (1) streams are dry or losing water where they are incised into the Honomanu Basalt, (2) the hydraulic conductivity of the Honomanu Basalt is too high to support a thick ground-water lens given the estimated recharge to the study area, and (3) wells that penetrate through the contact have encountered conditions of cascading water from above the contact and dry lava tubes in the Honomanu Basalt. More than 90 percent of the recharge to the study area is estimated to flow downward through the perched high-level water body to reach the freshwater lens.

A cross-sectional, steady-state, variably saturated ground-water flow model using the computer code VS2DT was constructed to evaluate whether a two-layer, variably saturated ground-water flow system could exist given the hydrologic and geologic conditions of the Haiku study area. Using 25 inches per year of recharge and hydraulic characteristics representative of the Kula Volcanics and the Honomanu Basalt, the model demonstrates that a 13-foot thick geologic layer with a saturated vertical hydraulic conductivity less than 6.6Y10-2 feet per day can impede vertical ground-water flow enough to produce two separate saturated zones with an unsaturated zone between them. Subsequent lower vertical hydraulic conductivity values for the impeding layer allow even less water to reach the lower layer.

Publication Year 1999
Title Ground water and surface water in the Haiku area, East Maui, Hawaii
DOI 10.3133/wri984142
Authors Stephen B. Gingerich
Publication Type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Series Title Water-Resources Investigations Report
Series Number 98-4142
Index ID wri984142
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Pacific Islands Water Science Center