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Spatially distributed groundwater recharge for 2010 land cover estimated using a water-budget model for the Island of O‘ahu, Hawai‘i

February 26, 2015

Owing mainly to projected population growth, demand for freshwater on the Island of Oʻahu is expected to increase by about 26 percent between 2010 and 2030, according to the City and County of Honolulu. Estimates of groundwater recharge are needed to evaluate the availability of fresh groundwater. For this study, a water-budget model with a daily computation interval was developed and used to estimate the spatial distribution of recharge on Oʻahu for average climate conditions (1978–2007 rainfall and 2010 land cover) and for drought conditions (1998–2002 rainfall and 2010 land cover). For average climate conditions, mean annual recharge for Oʻahu is about 660 million gallons per day, or about 36 percent of precipitation (rainfall and fog interception). Recharge for average climate conditions is about 34 percent of total water inflow, which consists of precipitation, irrigation, septic leachate, water-main leakage, and seepage from reservoirs and cesspools. Recharge is high along the crest of the Koʻolau Range, reaching as much as about 180 inches per year in the north-central part of the range. Recharge is much lower outside of the mountainous areas of the island, commonly less than 5 inches per year in unirrigated areas. The island-wide estimate of groundwater recharge for average climate conditions from this study is within 1 percent of the recharge estimate used in the 2008 State of Hawaiʻi Water Resource Protection Plan, which divides the Island of Oʻahu into 23 aquifer systems for groundwater management purposes. To facilitate direct comparisons with this study, these 23 aquifer systems were consolidated into 21 aquifer systems. Recharge estimates from this study are higher for 12 of the aquifer-system areas and lower for 9. Differences in mean rainfall distribution and the inclusion of irrigation in this study are the primary reasons for discrepancies in recharge estimates between this study and the 2008 Hawaiʻi Water Resources Protection Plan. For drought conditions, mean annual recharge for Oʻahu is about 417 million gallons per day, which is about 37 percent less than recharge for average climate conditions. For individual aquifer-system areas, recharge for drought conditions is about 25 to 70 percent less than recharge for average climate conditions.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2017
Title Spatially distributed groundwater recharge for 2010 land cover estimated using a water-budget model for the Island of O‘ahu, Hawai‘i
DOI 10.3133/sir20155010
Authors John A. Engott, Adam G. Johnson, Maoya Bassiouni, Scot K. Izuka, Kolja Rotzoll
Publication Type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Series Title Scientific Investigations Report
Series Number 2015-5010
Index ID sir20155010
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Pacific Islands Water Science Center