On Guam, demand for groundwater tripled from the early 1970s to 2010. The demand for groundwater is anticipated to further increase in the near future because of population growth and a proposed military relocation to Guam. Uncertainty regarding the availability of groundwater resources to support the increased demand has prompted an investigation of groundwater recharge on Guam using the most current data and accepted methods. For this investigation, a daily water-budget model was developed and used to estimate mean recharge for various land-cover and rainfall conditions. Recharge was also estimated for part of the island using the chloride mass-balance method.
Using the daily water-budget model, estimated mean annual recharge on Guam is 394.1 million gallons per day, which is 39 percent of mean annual rainfall (999.0 million gallons per day). Although minor in comparison to rainfall on the island, water inflows from water-main leakage, septic-system leachate, and stormwater runoff may be several times greater than rainfall at areas that receive these inflows. Recharge is highest in areas that are underlain by limestone, where recharge is typically between 40 and 60 percent of total water inflow. Recharge is relatively high in areas that receive stormwater runoff from storm-drain systems, but is relatively low in urbanized areas where stormwater runoff is routed to the ocean or to other areas. In most of the volcanic uplands in southern Guam where runoff is substantial, recharge is less than 30 percent of total water inflow.
The water-budget model in this study differs from all previous water-budget investigations on Guam by directly accounting for canopy evaporation in forested areas, quantifying the evapotranspiration rate of each land-cover type, and accounting for evaporation from impervious areas. For the northern groundwater subbasins defined in Camp, Dresser & McKee Inc. (1982), mean annual baseline recharge computed in this study is 159.1 million gallons per day, which is 50 percent of mean annual rainfall, and is 42 percent greater than the recharge estimate of Camp, Dresser & McKee Inc. (1982). For the northern aquifer sectors defined in Mink (1991), which encompass most of the northern half of the island, mean annual baseline recharge computed in this study is 238.0 million gallons per day, which is 51 percent of mean annual rainfall, and is about 6 percent lower than the recharge estimate of Mink (1991). For the drought simulation performed in this study, recharge for the entire island is 259.3 million gallons per day, which is 34 percent lower than recharge computed for baseline conditions. For all aquifer sectors defined by Mink (1991), total recharge during drought conditions is 32 percent lower than mean baseline recharge. For the future land-cover water-budget simulation, which represents potential land-cover changes owing to the military relocation and population growth, estimated recharge for the entire island is nearly equal to the baseline recharge estimate that was based on 2004 land cover.
Using the water-budget model, estimated recharge in the northern half of the island is most sensitive to crop coefficients and net precipitation rates—two of the water-budget parameters used in the estimation of total evapotranspiration. Estimated recharge in the southern half of the island is most sensitive to crop coefficients, net precipitation rate, and runoff-to-rainfall ratios.
During March 2010 to May 2011, bulk-deposition samples from five rainfall stations on Guam were collected and analyzed for chloride. Additionally, samples from five groundwater sites were collected and analyzed for chloride. Results were used to estimate groundwater recharge using the chloride mass-balance method. Recharge estimates using this method at three bulk-deposition stations on the northern limestone plateau range from about 25 to 48 percent of rainfall. These recharge estimates are similar to the estimate of Ayers (1981) who also used this method. Recharge estimates at each bulk-deposition station, however, are lower than the baseline recharge estimate from the water-budget model used in this study. This may be because no large storms, such as tropical cyclones, passed near Guam during March 2010 to May 2011.