Water in the Kahuku area, Oahu, Hawaii

Water Supply Paper 1874




The Kahuku area comprises the north end of the Koolau Range and its bordering coastal plain. This part of the range is less deeply eroded than oth3r parts, and except for long, narrow valleys and cliffs near the shore, it has retained the general shape of the original volcanic dome. A 21/2-mile-wide dike zone of parallel and subparallel dikes along the crest is the remnant of the fissure zone of eruption. Outcrops are mostly permeable lava flows of the Koolau Volcanic Series, which are intruded by dikes inside the dike zone and are free of dikes outside it. The lava flows constitute main aquifers, and water bodies in them are called dike water inside the dike zone and basal water outside it. Dikes, because they are less permeable than the lava flows they intrude, impound ground water, thereby controlling its movement, discharge, and storage. The top of the dike-impounded water is at an altitude of at least 1,000 feet near the south end of the Kahuku area. Dike water is discharged as leakage, the amount of which fluctuates in response to changes in storage, as flow into streams, where they intersect saturated rock, and as underflow to the basal-water body. Basal water occurs on either side of the dike zone, which forms both a structural and hydrologic boundary. It is artesian on the windward side wherever it underlies the coastal plain, and the altitude of water levels ranges from 7 to 22 feet. Leeward of the dike zone, basal water occurs only under water-table conditions because of the near absence of a coastal plain, and the altitude of water levels ranges from less than 1 foot to about 3 feet. The quality of dike water is excellent except near the north end. where it is slightly contaminated by infiltration of irrigation water that contains as much as 1,200 mg/1 (milligrams per liter) chloride. Irrigation water is also a source of contamination of the basal-water body. The major contaminant, however, is sea water, which underlies the basal-water body. In the Kahuku subarea--where pumpage from the basal-water body is greatest--sea-water contamination is a major concern. Natural contamination by encroaching sea water extends more than 2 miles inland in the Waimea-Kawela subarea and generally precludes development of large quantities of basal water. At low altitudes where the perennial flow is small, all streams are intermittent except Kaluanui and Kamananui. Some streams are perennial in their upper reaches because of persistent rainfall, and some are perennial in their middle reaches owing to the discharge of dike water; however, most flows are small in the lower reaches because most of the flow has infiltrated into the ground-water reservoir. For these reasons, streamflow cannot be economically developed and is not a reliable source of water supply. Average rainfall is about 240 mgd (million gallons per day). Of this amount, about 220 mgd is in the mountains. On .the basis of a rainfall input of 220 mgd and estimates of stream runoff and evapotranspiration, ground-water flow is estimated to be 85 mgd, a figure which compares favorably with estimates based on analyses of pumping-test data. Of this amount, an average of 30 mgd is discharged by wells and the remaining 55 mgd is eventually discharged to the sea by underflow or to the atmosphere by evapotranspiration. The most promising areas for developing basal water are in the Hauula and Laie subareas, where draft is low and ground-water flow is high. The Waimea-Kawela subarea is not promising owing 'to low ground-water flow even though draft is low. Least promising for development is in the Kahuku subarea where an overdeveloped condition prevails in which draft for sugarcane irrigation exceeds the ground-water flow. The development of dike water is promising in the Waimea-Kawela subarea where ground-water flow greatly exceeds the draft.

Additional Publication Details

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USGS Numbered Series
Water in the Kahuku area, Oahu, Hawaii
Series title:
Water Supply Paper
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U.S. Govt. Print. Off.,
v, 59 p. :illus., maps (1 fold. col. in pocket) ;24 cm.