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Low-Flow Regionalization of Streams in Hawaii
Phase 1 -- Low-Flow Characteristics of Gaged Streams

Project Chief: Chui Ling Cheng
Project Period: June 2013 through September 2015
Cooperators: Hawaii State Commission on Water Resource Management, Hawaii Department of Hawaiian Home Lands, Office of Hawaiian Affairs
Location: Islands of Kauai, Oahu, Molokai, Maui, and Hawaii


In Hawaii, management of the surface-water resources for many streams is problematic because of a lack of information on the availability of water during low-flow conditions. Knowledge of low-flow characteristics is fundamental to establishing reasonable and defensible instream-flow standards. Furthermore, the use of stream water for agriculture and municipal purposes, protection of traditional and customary Hawaiian rights, maintenance of ecologic balance, aesthetic differences between dry and flowing streams, and recreational use of the streams are factors that play a role in planning and management decisions by many agencies.


This study is the first phase of a larger two-phased 7-year study with the overall objective of applying regionalization techniques to estimate low-flow duration discharges for streams at sites where streamflow data are limited or unavailable on the islands of Kauai, Oahu, Molokai, Maui, and Hawaii. The objective of phase 1 is to provide estimates of selected natural low-flow duration discharges, between the 50 and 95 flow-duration percentiles, for streams with existing streamflow data at gaged sites.

Relevance and Benefits

The results from this study are necessary for the proper management of the surface waters in the State and, thus, the study is consistent with the mission of the USGS Science Strategy to provide citizens, communities, natural-resource managers, and policymakers with a clearer knowledge of the status of their water. This study will also assist the Hawaii State Commission on Water Resource Management in determining equitable, reasonable, and beneficial instream and off-stream uses of the surface-water resources in Hawaii.


The study objective of Phase 1 will be accomplished by compiling and analyzing all existing discharge measurements from the USGS. Selected natural low-flow duration discharges at continuous-record stream-gaging stations and low-flow partial-record sites will be computed. Results from this study will be published in the USGS Scientific Investigations Report series and made available on the internet.


Compiled data and analyzed existing discharge measurements. Completed the report describing the study's approach and findings.


Cheng, C.L., 2016, Low-Flow Characteristics for Streams on the Islands of Kaua‘i, O‘ahu, Moloka‘i, Maui, and Hawai‘i, State of Hawai‘i: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2016–5103, 36 p.

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