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PROJECT TITLE:

2015 WRRC Capacity Building and Science Communications for Groundwater Sustainability Work in American Samoa


PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR:

Philip Moravcik, Water Resources Research Center

SPONSOR:

National Institute for Water Resources, Water Resources Research Institute Program

PROJECT PERIOD:

3/1/2015 - 2/28/2016

ABSTRACT:

The sustainability of groundwater use on Tutuila, the main island in American Samoa, is currently in question. Water demand is increasing and the island's aquifers are continually vulnerable to anthropogenic and salt-water contamination. A research group consisting of students from the University of Hawaii (UH) and American Samoa Community College (ASCC) is currently striving to better understand this resource with field data collection, long-term monitoring of groundwater-precipitation exchange, and numerical modeling of groundwater. The group is in need of additional support in order to 1) communicate results in poster form at a geosciences conference and 2) purchase additional supplies for continuing fieldwork and computationally intensive numerical modeling. Since 2009 the island's water supply has been unsafe to drink and subject to a boil water notice based on groundwater being under the direct influence of surface water. Elevated turbidity and E.coli detections in wells are currently necessitating a better understanding of groundwater recharge times in well capture zones. The UH-ASCC research group is beginning work on a multi-year comparative study between δ2H and δ18O values in precipitation and δ2H and δ18O values in groundwater. The goal is to constrain the recharge seasonality of water from production wells to better understand possible aquifer contamination by surface water. The group is also currently working to develop multiple groundwater models of the island. These numerical models will be used to: produce a sustainable-yield-estimate of existing and potential groundwater resources in both high level and basal aquifers, determine the effects of land use within well capture zones, and develop plausible future water resource scenarios based on climate projections. These models will help water managers plan needed future water development and be better prepared for the effects of climate change on groundwater resources.