Measuring surface-water loss in Honouliuli Stream near the ‘Ewa Shaft, O‘ahu, Hawai‘i

Scientific Investigations Report 2017-5042

Prepared in cooperation with the Honolulu Board of Water Supply



The Honolulu Board of Water Supply is currently concerned with the possibility of bacteria in the pumped water of the ‘Ewa Shaft (State well 3-2202-21). Groundwater from the ‘Ewa Shaft could potentially be used to meet future potable water needs in the ‘Ewa area on the island of O‘ahu. The source of the bacteria in the pumped water is unknown, although previous studies indicate that surface water may be lost to the subsurface near the site. The ‘Ewa Shaft consists of a vertical shaft, started near the south bank of Honouliuli Stream at an altitude of about 161 feet, and two horizontal infiltration tunnels near sea level. The shaft extracts groundwater from near the top of the freshwater lens in the Waipahu-Waiawa aquifer system within the greater Pearl Harbor Aquifer Sector, a designated Water Management Area.

The surface-water losses were evaluated with continuous groundwater-level data from the ‘Ewa Shaft and a nearby monitoring well, continuous stream-discharge data from U.S. Geological Survey streamflow-gaging station 16212490 (Honouliuli Stream at H-1 Freeway near Waipahu), and seepage-run measurements in Honouliuli Stream and its tributary. During storms, discharge at the Honouliuli Stream gaging station increases and groundwater levels at ‘Ewa Shaft and a nearby monitoring well also increase. The concurrent increase in water levels at ‘Ewa Shaft and the nearby monitoring well during storms indicates that regional groundwater-level changes related to increased recharge, reduced withdrawals (due to a decrease in demand during periods of rainfall), or both may be occurring; although these data do not preclude the possibility of local recharge from Honouliuli Stream. Discharge measurements from two seepage runs indicate that surface water in the immediate area adjacent to ‘Ewa Shaft infiltrates into the streambed and may later reach the groundwater system developed by the ‘Ewa Shaft. The estimated seepage loss rates in the vicinity of ‘Ewa Shaft from the two seepage runs generally ranged from 0.27 to 1.78 million gallons per day per mile of stream reach; although higher seepage rates may occur during periods of higher discharge in Honouliuli Stream. A potential source of bacteria in ‘Ewa Shaft maybe related to seepage from Honouliuli Stream; however, other sources of bacteria were not studied and cannot be excluded.

Suggested Citation

Rosa, S.N., 2017, Measuring surface-water loss in Honouliuli Stream near the ‘Ewa Shaft, O‘ahu, Hawai‘i: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2017–5042, 14 p.,

ISSN: 2328-0328 (online)

Study Area

Table of Contents

  • Abstract
  • Introduction
  • Purpose and Scope
  • Setting
  • Climate
  • Hydrogeological Setting
  • Surface-Water Losses
  • Continuous Water-Level and Stream-Discharge Data
  • Seepage Run
  • Study Limitations and Additional Data Needs
  • Summary 
  • References Cited

Additional publication details

Publication type:
Publication Subtype:
USGS Numbered Series
Measuring surface-water loss in Honouliuli Stream near the ‘Ewa Shaft, O‘ahu, Hawai‘i
Series title:
Scientific Investigations Report
Series number:
Year Published:
U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location:
Reston, VA
Contributing office(s):
Pacific Islands Water Science Center
vi, 16 p.
United States
Other Geospatial:
O‘ahu, Wai‘anae Range
Online Only (Y/N):