This study applied a soil water balance (SWB) model to simulate groundwater recharge on Catalina Island, California, for the years 2008–2014, a period that coincided with a severe drought. Island-wide average recharge ranged from 0.05 mm/year in 2013 to 82.3 mm/year in 2008, with a 7-year mean of 23.0 mm/year. High recharge is primarily associated with east-facing mountain fronts and the land cover types “developed, open space” and “herbaceous”. This spatial trend is also reflected in recharge estimates for groundwater well locations produced by the Cl mass balance method. Only in 2008 did all areas of the island experience recharge, while the recharge was very low during the drought years 2009 and 2012–2014. Sensitivity analyses indicate an unresolved discrepancy in land cover classification (i.e., herbaceous grass dominated vs. chaparral and coastal sage dominated) to be a significant factor. In a scenario where herbaceous grass dominates, as field studies from the early 1980s imply, recharge estimates nearly double. Nevertheless, the overall low recharge rates presented herein and the fact that drought conditions in Southern California have worsened since 2014 suggest that large parts of the island may not have received any recharge in nearly a decade.
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License
which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited