Water resources of Windward Oahu, Hawaii

Water Supply Paper 1894

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Windward Oahu lies in a large cavity--an erosional remnant of the Koolau volcanic dome at its greatest stage of growth. Outcrops include volcanic rocks associated with caldera collapse and the main fissure zone which is marked by a dike complex that extends along the main axis of the dome. The fissure zone intersects and underlies the Koolau Range north of Waiahole Valley. South of Waiahole Valley, the crest of the Koolau Range is in the marginal dike zone, an area of scattered dikes. The crest of the range forms the western boundary of windward Oahu. Dikes, mostly vertical and parallel or subparallel to the fissure zone, control movement and discharge of ground water because they are less permeable than the rocks they intrude. Dikes impound or partly impound ground water by preventing or retarding its movement toward discharge points. The top of this water, called high-level water in Hawaii, is at an altitude of about 1,000 feet in the north end of windward Oahu and 400 feet near the south end in Waimanalo Valley. It underlies most of the area and extends near or to the surface in poorly permeable rocks in low-lying areas. Permeability is high in less weathered mountain areas and is highest farthest away from the dike complex. Ground-water storage fluctuates to some degree owing to limited changes in the level of the ground-water reservoir--maximum storage is about 60,000 million gallons. The fluctuations control the rate at which ground water discharges. Even at its lowest recorded level, the reservoir contains a major part of the storage capacity because most of the area is perennially saturated to or near the surface. Tunnels have reduced storage by about 26,000 million gallons--only a fraction of the total storage--by breaching dike controls. Much of the reduction in storage can be restored if the .breached dike controls are replaced by flow-regulating bulkheads. Perennial streams intersect high-level water and collectively form its principal discharge. The larger streams are those that cut deepest into high-level reservoirs. Except near the coast in the northern end of the area, where dikes are absent, total base flow of streams equals total ground-water discharge. Development of high-level water by tunnels and wells diverts ground-water discharge from streams, decreasing the base flow of these streams. Construction of Haiku tunnel decreased the flow of Kahaluu Stream, 2 ? miles away, by about 26 percent. The dependable flow of water is estimated at 118 mgd (million gallons per day), of which 84 mgd is discharged by streams, tunnels, springs, and wells The remaining 34 mgd is underflow, most of it discharging into the sea near the northern end of ,the area. Average flow is estimated at 220 mgd, of which 159 mgd is. inventoried flow and 61 mgd is estimated underflow. Specific capacity of wells tapping lava flows of the Koolau Volcanic Series ranges from less than 1 to 11 gallons per minute per foot of drawdown in the dike-complex zone and from 2 to 100 in the marginal dike zone. A transmissivity of 4,000,000 gallons per day per foot was determined for the basal aquifer. Permeabilities of rocks in high mountainous areas penetrated by water-development tunnels were compared by recession constants determined from free-flow drainage. Evapotranspiration was estimated from regression curves obtained by correlating median annual rainfall and median annual pan evaporation. Evapotranspiration values from these curves compared favorably w4th values obtained from water-budget listings of rainfall and measured ground-water flow. The chemical quality of water in wells and tunnels tapping rocks of the Koolau and Honolulu Volcanic Series is excellent. Except in a few isolated areas near the shore, the chloride content of the water from these sources is generally less than 100 parts per million. Wells tapping calcareous materials are subject to sea-water contamination under heavy pumping.

Additional Publication Details

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USGS Numbered Series
Water resources of Windward Oahu, Hawaii
Series title:
Water Supply Paper
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U.S. Govt. Print. Off.,
vii, 119 p. :illus., maps (3 fold. col. in pocket) ;24 cm.