A study of the geology, streamflow, and water chemistry of Talufofo Stream Basin, Saipan, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, was undertaken to determine the flow characteristics of Talufofo Stream and the relation to the geology of the drainage basin. The Commonwealth government is exploring the feasibility of using water from Talufofo Stream to supplement Saipan's stressed municipal water supply.
Streamflow records from gaging stations on the principal forks of Talufofo Stream indicate that peak streamflows and long-term average flow are higher at the South Fork gaging station than at the Middle Fork gaging station because the drainage area of the South Fork gaging station is larger, but persistent base flow from ground-water discharge during dry weather is greater in the Middle Fork gaging station. The sum of the average flows at the Middle Fork and South Fork gaging stations, plus an estimate of the average flow at a point in the lower reaches of the North Fork, is about 2.96 cubic feet per second or 1.91 million gallons per day. Although this average represents the theoretical maximum long-term draft rate possible from the Talufofo Stream Basin if an adequate reservoir can be built, the actual amount of surface water available will be less because of evaporation, leaks, induced infiltration, and reservoir-design constraints.
Base-flow characteristics, such as stream seepage and spring discharge, are related to geology of the basin. Base flow in the Talufofo Stream Basin originates as discharge from springs near the base of limestones located in the headwaters of Talufofo Stream, flows over low-permeability volcanic rocks in the middle reaches, and seeps back into the high-permeability limestones in the lower reaches.
Water sampled from Talufofo Stream during base flow had high dissolved-calcium concentrations (between 35 and 98 milligrams per liter), characteristic of water from a limestone aquifer. Concentrations of potassium, sodium, and chloride ions in water samples from Talufofo Stream are characteristic of water draining a heavily vegetated basin near the ocean.
The streamflow and water-chemistry data indicate that discharge from springs is in hydraulic connection with the limestone aquifer near the headwaters of the basin. The base flow therefore is subject to stresses placed on the nearby limestone ground-water system. Pumping from wells in the limestones at the headwaters of Talufofo Stream Basin may decrease spring flow in Talufofo Stream.