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California Groundwater Modeling

Wallace Groundwater understands groundwater modeling. Whether you need help modeling a simple site-sized contaminant transport plume, or a basin-wide full-blown transient groundwater model involving climate future scenarios and uncertainty analysis - we got your back. We understand how to make models represent the data that we put into them by adjusting the boundary conditions and parameters.

Groundwater modeling is the best solution for several types of civil engineering and water resource planning problems.  Groundwater models are used for many applications: identification of sustainable aquifer yield, evaluation of varying pumping schedules, fate and transport of hazardous chemical contaminants, groundwater remediation program design, intrusion of saltwater, subsidence of the land surface, and optimization of pumping schedules to minimize the cost of pumping.

Groundwater modeling is an ever-changing practice.  The technological advances over the past decade have provided modelers with the computational firepower to accurately represent environmental processes.  In addition, the USGS is constantly providing new versions of groundwater modeling programs like MODFLOW and SUTRA to better represent the reality of groundwater hydrology.

Groundwater models are used by federal, state, county, and city governments throughout the United States to better understand groundwater availability and shed light on how to sustainably utilize our groundwater.  Traditionally, groundwater models are developed by the USGS, civil engineering and geology firms, and governments.


Statistical Analysis

Groundwater samples are collected at different geological sites. Hydrogeological exploration and analysis and testing aquifers are part of the process done on behalf of the federal, state, and county governments, to determine the viability of groundwater in a given location.

Modeling may involve the application of tools such as GIS (Geographic Information Systems). The aim is to create a model that will characterize the hydrogeologic profile of groundwater systems. The resulting visualizations facilitate the identification of groundwater resources while at the same time pinpointing areas with poor quality groundwater and contaminant scenarios.

To accurately characterize the profile of groundwater there is need for a wide range of computer models that can simulate the movement of the water resource. These models can evaluate, with a high level of accuracy, the placement of chemical constituents and establish the movement of contaminants.

These computer models aid in the design of groundwater withdrawal strategies. The strategy may involve the mapping of wells and their placement, pumping rate to conserve energy, and determine whether to use pumping, or drain wells, or a combination of the two.



Water Flow Rate: Determine the direction and rate of groundwater. Porosity, permeability, retention amongst other variables are tested to determine the flow of the water resource.

Development: Ground water is analyzed for its suitability as a resource for farming and industrial applications. An analysis of the tests carried out earlier will help to establish the pumping rates. Permeability characteristics of the water resource, as well as whether confined aquifers have leakages.

Monitoring Ground water: An analysis of the vadose zone is done and a monitoring system is developed.

Groundwater and surface water interaction: Analyze the interaction of surface water and groundwater to determine if there is risk of pollution of water resources. An analysis of this interaction can also indicate if there is a potential risk in the depletion of surface and groundwater.

Monitoring Surface Water: Due to the interaction between surface water and ground water, there is need to monitor surface water for contamination.

Impact zones: Pinpoint impact zones and areas where sediment disposition takes place.

Simulating Circulation: Simulate the circulation of rivers to determine where sediments are deposited.

Dewatering: Simulate dewatering and drain patterns.

Compliance: Develop models for recycled water that comply with California water regulations.


Modeling Software


MODFLOW is a groundwater simulation program that can run on a wide range of computer systems; from personal computers to super computers. It is applicable where the following conditions are met; 1) The aquifer density is constant, 2) where hydraulic conductivity remains constant, 3) in a system where Darcy’s law applies, and 4) in a system that exhibits saturated flow.’

Fortunately, these conditions are often met in most situations where there is an interest in analyzing water-resource in a bid to develop it for irrigation or industrial applications. This is partly the reason, why the software is amongst the most widely used in the world.

Additionally, MODFLOW is a program that is quite versatile. For example, the program has a structure that makes it fairly simple to add new simulation features. Simulation of aquifer systems can be done in one, two, or three dimensional models. It can also be integrated with other computer programs to facilitate the analysis of computer programs.

MODFLOW is also widely accepted as a legitimate way to simulate movement of groundwater systems.



GSFLOW (Groundwater and Surface-water FLOW) is a system that is designed to simulate both ground water and surface water flow. It was developed after MODFLOW and PRMS (Precipitation-Runoff Modeling System) were integrated. It is used to analyze data related to climatic factors such as air temperature, precipitation, and solar radiation, amongst other factors.

One of the objectives of integrating the two systems was to ensure that groundwater mass could be conserved while simultaneously calculate water budget for the development of water resources in a given area. It can analyze data from a small area of a few square kilometers to a large area of thousands of kilometers. Similarly, it has a flexible time range that can be between a month to decades.


WASP (Water Quality Analysis Simulation Program)

WASP is used by federal, county, and city governments to model and predict the surface water quality parameters and how it responds to natural phenomena and manmade pollution. It one of the most widely used surface water simulation systems in the United States.

WASP can be used to create one, two, and three dimensional models. It can be integrated with sediment transport and hydrodynamic models to analyze the sediment fluxes, salinity, temperature, and depth velocities.


Other Models include:

GIS applications: To analyze vulnerability of groundwater systems.

PEST (Parameter Estimation): An application used for parameter estimation and the evaluation of uncertainty of computer models.

AQTESOLV: An application used in the design and the evaluation of confined, unconfined and leaking aquifers.

MT3D: Develop models for the flow system and the solute transport model.

Custom Software Design: Custom applications developed for specific needs. The software can be developed in languages such as C++, C, Visual Basic, etc.