Pacific Islands Water Science Center

Prepared in cooperation with the State of Hawaii Department of Health

U.S. Geological Survey
Open-File Report 2007-1429
version 1.0

Suspended-Sediment and Nutrient Loads for Waiakea and Alenaio Streams, Hilo, Hawaii, 2003–2006

By Todd K. Presley, Marcael T.J. Jamison, and Dale C. Nishimoto


Map, graph, and picture of a station


Suspended sediment and nutrient samples were collected during wet-weather conditions at three sites on two ephemeral streams in the vicinity of Hilo, Hawaii during March 2004 to March 2006. Two sites were sampled on Waiakea Stream at 80- and 860-foot altitudes during March 2004 to August 2005. One site was sampled on Alenaio Stream at 10-foot altitude during November 2005 to March 2006. The sites were selected to represent different land uses and land covers in the area. Most of the drainage area above the upper Waiakea Stream site is conservation land. The drainage areas above the lower site on Waiakea Stream, and the site on Alenaio Stream, are a combination of conservation land, agriculture, rural, and urban land uses.

In addition to the sampling, continuous-record streamflow sites were established at the three sampling sites, as well as an additional site on Alenaio Stream at altitude of 75 feet and 0.47 miles upstream from the sampling site. Stage was measured continuously at 15-minute intervals at these sites. Discharge, for any particular instant, or for selected periods of time, were computed based on a stage-discharge relation determined from individual discharge measurements. Continuous records of discharge were computed at the two sites on Waiakea Stream and the upper site on Aleniao Stream. Due to non-ideal hydraulic conditions within the channel of Alenaio Stream, a continuous record of discharge was not computed at the lower site on Alenaio Stream where samples were taken.

Samples were analyzed for suspended sediment, and the nutrients total nitrogen, dissolved nitrite plus nitrate, and total phosphorus. Concentration data were converted to instantaneous load values: loads are the product of discharge and concentration, and are presented as tons per day for suspended sediment or pounds per day for nutrients. Daily-mean loads were computed by estimating concentrations relative to discharge using graphical constituent loading analysis techniques. Daily-mean loads were computed at the two Waiakea Stream sampling sites for the analyzed constituents, during the period October 1, 2003 to September 30, 2005. No record of daily-mean load was computed for the Alenaio Stream sampling site due to the problems with computing a discharge record.

The maximum daily-mean loads for the upper site on Waiakea Stream for suspended sediment was 79 tons per day, and the maximum daily-mean loads for total nitrogen, dissolved nitrite plus nitrate, and total phosphorus were 1,350, 13, and 300 pounds per day, respectively. The maximum daily-mean loads for the lower site on Waiakea Stream for suspended sediment was 468 tons per day, and the maximum daily-mean loads for total nitrogen, nitrite plus nitrate, and total phosphorus were 913, 8.5, and 176 pounds per day, respectively. From the estimated continuous daily-mean load record, all of the maximum daily-mean loads occurred during October 2003 and September 2004, except for suspended sediment load for the lower site, which occurred on September 15, 2005. Maximum values were not all caused by a single storm event. Overall, the record of daily-mean loads showed lower loads during storm events for suspended sediments and nutrients at the downstream site of Waiakea Stream during 2004 than at the upstream site. During 2005, however, the suspended sediment loads were higher at the downstream site than the upstream site. Construction of a flood control channel between the two sites in 2005 may have contributed to the change in relative suspended-sediment loads.


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