Aquaveo & Water Resources Engineering News

Switching Model Executables

The Groundwater Modeling System, Surface-water Modeling System, and Watershed Modeling System (collectively known as XMS) applications make use of multiple numerical models. XMS is packaged with the executables for each of these numerical models. At times, you may need to switch out which numerical model executable XMS uses.

In general, you will want to use the model executable that comes packaged with the XMS. XMS is coded to work with the specific model executables that are distributed with each version of the software.

There are some reasons you might want to change which model executable it used. It might fix a bug with the model executable. It might get you access to features in an older or newer version of the model executable. It might also help you test issues with the numerical model. Replacing the model executable isn't guaranteed to help with any of these, but it is one option for troubleshooting with all of them.

For all XMS applications, the numerical model executables to be used are selected in the Preferences dialog. If you already know where the model executable is, you can copy and paste the executable into the preferences dialog. To do so, use the following workflow:

  1. Copy the executable file path. If using Windows 11, right-click on the desired model executable and select "Copy as Path."
  2. If using Windows 10, open the Properties dialog from the right-click menu. Copy and paste the location path into a text document. Then, make sure to grab the file name ending in ".exe" as well. The executable path will be incomplete without that file name.
  3. In your XMS software, open the Preferences dialog from the Edit menu.
  4. Find the model executable that you want to change and click on the file path next to the name or the Browse button.
  5. In SMS or WMS, this will bring up an Open dialog. In the File name box, paste in the new executable path. If you are using Windows 11, make sure to delete the quotation marks at the beginning and end. Selecting Open saves the new model executable.
  6. In GMS, the model executable is editable without bringing up the Open dialog. Simply erase the former executable path and paste in the new one. As long as the path is a valid path and the path ends in ".exe", GMS will save it. Again, for Windows 11, delete the quotation marks.
  7. Finalize the model executable by clicking OK to exit the Preferences dialog. Otherwise, the executable will not save.
Example of model executables in the Preferences dialog

Now, there are some issues to keep in mind. As mentioned earlier, changing out a numerical model executable is not guaranteed to fix a particular issue or even improve the situation. Older or newer versions of the model executable may not always be compatible with your version of XMS. Sometimes the model executable is not compatible with a particular project. The new executable might even worsen the situation. If any of these things happen, you can reintroduce the original executable.

Check out the available model executables in XMS today!

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Exploring Display Themes in SMS

SMS has an expansive suite of display options that allows you to visualize your results with style and clarity. What’s more, SMS has tools that can streamline how you adjust display options. Have you ever wanted to be able to adjust display options in SMS without actually opening the Display Options dialog? Have you contoured a dataset to your liking and now want to save those particular contour settings to return to them quickly? Display themes make these things possible. Today we discuss the uses of display themes as well as considerations to keep in mind while using them.

Display themes have several uses. Imagine a project where you want to quickly navigate between two different parts of the project. Display themes can be used to save view options, so you can jump back and forth between opposite ends of the project by clicking on the display theme in the Project Explorer.

Example of Display Themes in SMS

Display themes also allow you to develop a unique set of contours for each dataset. You can build a display theme that automatically comes on every time a certain dataset is activated. If you save only contours in that display theme, then you have essentially tailored specific contours to turn on when the dataset is active. This allows each dataset to have unique contours.

Finally, if you get a shot of the project that you want to return to easily, you can set up a display theme to save almost all the display options. Display themes can save everything from the angle of the Graphics Window to the visibility of different items. However, even a display theme that saves all possible options does not guarantee producing the same view every time.

For example, the active dataset selected in the Project Explorer will affect the visuals. Selecting a display theme does not adjust the active dataset even if selecting certain datasets activates certain display themes. Furthermore, the display themes will not display any data that has been deleted in the Project Explorer. Please be aware of the various settings and actions besides the specified display options that can affect your graphics.

Depending on how you set up your display themes, selecting one can cause an unexpected change in what appears when looking at another display theme. Therefore, the order in which you select display themes can change the view you end up with, depending on what you have saved in each display theme.

How can you optimize your use of Display Themes? You might start by keeping them organized in folders in the Project Explorer. You can also label them with names that help you remember what display options got saved in each display theme. For examples of how this might be done, refer to the tutorials relating to display themes.

Assigning one group of display options to save with each display theme can make display themes more useful and precise. Display themes with one group of settings saved allow you to make quick, specific changes to the display. In this way, display themes become like shortcuts for adjusting the display options. To make sure that the display theme is only saving the desired display options, uncheck all the checkboxes except the desired checkbox in the Display Theme Properties dialog.

Getting the right display options can help you communicate your results more effectively, and display themes can make your display options more agile. Check out display themes in SMS today!

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Creating UGrid Cross Sections in GMS

GMS 10.7 has added functionality for creating and viewing cross sections on unstructured grids (UGrids) in your GMS project. This article discusses this added functionality for creating UGrid cross sections and some things to keep in mind while using it.

You can use it anytime you want a quick view of the inside of a UGrid. Perhaps you want to review the contours of a MODFLOW 6 dataset or the materials in a specific section of a UGrid. With the Create Cross Section tool, you can quickly create a cross section that visualizes these values.

To use this tool, go to the UGrid Module in GMS and select the tool called Create Cross Section. Then, click out a line across your 3D UGrid in the GMS Graphics Window. This creates a new UGrid cross section, and a new cross section item appears in the Project Explorer under the active UGrid.

UGrid Cross Sections in GMS

Depending on the display options you choose, it may be necessary to hide the UGrid to see the cross section you created. You can hide the UGrid by clicking the checkbox next to it in the Project Explorer. Even though the cross section is categorized under the UGrid in the Project Explorer, the cross section does not disappear when the UGrid is hidden. Another option for visualizing the cross section is to turn off face contours and cell faces in the display options for the active UGrid.

Regardless of the length of the line you click out, the Create Cross Section tool will create a cross section along your line from one end of the UGrid to the other. This tool does not create partial cross sections.

Moreover, this tool only creates cross sections on the active UGrid, even if other UGrids are visible and the active UGrid is not. Every UGrid cross section drawn is saved under the currently active UGrid in the Project Explorer.

If you accidentally create a cross section, it can be easily deleted by selecting it and using the delete command. This also allows you to create a UGrid cross section to quickly verify something, but then delete it just as quickly. It does not show up in your final model if you don't want it to.

These cross sections have a separate display options dialog that is accessed individually by right-clicking on the cross section in the Project Explorer. In the display options, the elevation offset for the UGrid cross section can be set. This allows for the cross section to appear above the UGrid for viewing. There are also options that allow you to decide which dataset the cross section contours represent. Many of the options relating to things like contours and cells are accessed by clicking the button labeled Other Display Options.

Creating UGrid cross sections makes visualizing 3D UGrid data more straightforward than before. Try the Create Cross Section tool in GMS 10.7 today!

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Recovering SMS Projects Using Temp Files

Rarely,SMS project files don’t save correctly. Various errors can cause this: for example, running out of processing power when saving a large project. Fortunately, there are multiple ways to recover SMS files that don't save correctly. One possible way is using the temp files created during the saving process.

SMS creates temp files that hold the information from the SMS file while the original files get rewritten. When an SMS project saves under normal conditions, the temp files are quickly erased. In many projects, if watching in the File Explorer, you won't even see them appear. However, if the SMS file fails to save correctly, the SMS temp files and folders may remain. If they are still available, they can be used to recover the project.

To recover an SMS project from available temp files and folders, do the following:

  1. Identify the temporary *.sms project file, the data folder, and the models folder. They are located in the same folder as the project file and its accompanying folders. Each of these temp files has a time stamp at the end of the file name. The timestamp corresponds to the time at which they were created, which is the minute the project began to save.
  2. Move these files/folders (there should be three of them) away from the original project folder. Ensure that they all end up in the same folder. Moving the temp files ensures that SMS doesn’t get confused about which data it's supposed to load when you open the *.sms project folder. This is important because the temp files are going to become the new project files.
  3. Rename all of the temp files and folders, so they follow the normal SMS naming conventions. When done, they should appear as follows:
    • "ProjectName.sms"
    • "ProjectName_data"
    • "ProjectName_models"
Temp files for SMS

If the temp files don't get renamed according to the naming conventions, it's likely that SMS will have trouble reading the information. Renaming the temp files usually only requires that you erase the time stamp at the end of the file/folder name. Some projects will not have the temp model folder.

  1. Open the new ProjectName.sms file in SMS to verify everything imports correctly and looks good. We strongly recommend a thorough review of the project prior to continuing to work with it.
  2. Adjust the project to ensure stability. Cleaning up your project and removing unnecessary data can help reestablish stability for your project. This makes it less likely for the project to save incorrectly in the future.

Please remember that these files were created before the most recent save was complete. This means that they cannot have the information that was supposed to be saved in the save that failed.

Unfortunately, a project saving incorrectly does not guarantee that the temp files will still exist. As soon as you realize your project might have saved or might be saving incorrectly, go in search of the temp files. There is no guarantee as to how long they will be available, so copy them to a new directory as soon as possible if they are still available.

There are other ways to rebuild SMS projects. If you have a file that saved incorrectly, but you can't find the temp files, refer to the wiki for further instructions or contact Aquaveo technical support (support@aquaveo.com). With added confidence that you can recover project files, build a model in SMS today.

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Using the SMS Toolbox History Tab

The SMS toolbox has a lot of tools to suit your modeling needs, from adjusting ADCIRC levees to calculating a Manning's n dataset. In some cases you might need to run one of these tools repeatedly with only slight modifications to the settings. The History tab of SMS's toolbox can make that process a lot simpler. This article discusses how the History tab of the Toolbox dialog facilitates your use of the SMS toolbox.

The History tab of the Toolbox dialog saves each run in the current project of each tool from the SMS toolbox. From the History tab, you can open any tools that have been run in the currently open project with the settings from that run. To do so, select the Toolbox macro, then the History tab of the Toolbox dialog. The tool runs are categorized under folders labeled with the date on which they were run. The History tab also displays the input and output for each tool. That information can be accessed by clicking the arrow to the left of the tool. To open the tool with the settings from a given run, select that run from the History tab.

Ex

There are lots of situations in which the History tab might be useful. For example, it's possible that you need to trim several coverages with the same trimming coverage, the same buffer distance, and the same trimming option. Once you've run the Trim Coverage tool the first time, you can navigate to the History tab of the Toolbox dialog and select the run of the tool that you just completed. Once in the Trim Coverage dialog again, all you have to do is edit any settings that need to be changed for this specific run. From there, you can run the tool because all the other settings needed were saved from the last run.

But what if you've run many tools in this project, and you can't find the tool run you're looking for? Wouldn't it be easier to just specify the settings in the tool again? Possibly, but you don't have to dig through each run of every tool trying to figure out which run was which. The History tab of the Toolbox dialog has a search function that can search the input and output parameters for every tool in the History tab. It narrows down the tool runs to the ones that have information matching your search. So if you remember the name of an input coverage (or any other option), you can get a lot closer to finding the tool run you are looking for.

Note that the History tab of the Toolbox dialog saves information in the project you are currently working on. This means that the project always has a history of the tools that have been run in it. However, it also means that the tool history information doesn't transfer between two projects.

In sum, the SMS toolbox gives you tools for automating certain tasks in your SMS project; the History tab of the Toolbox dialog helps you save time while using these tools. Try out the SMS toolbox in SMS 13.2 today!

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Transferring Data between GMS and ArcGIS Pro

Exporting and importing data between ArcGIS Pro and GMS allows many users to improve the quality of their groundwater models. Today we explore moving data between these two applications, focusing mostly on shapefiles.

Exporting and importing shapefiles allows features that have already been digitized in one program to be transferred to another program. For instance, once data has been modeled in GMS, it can be converted to a shapefile and imported into ArcGIS Pro. Furthermore, feature objects that have already been drawn in ArcGIS Pro or GMS can be transferred to the other program and then used as feature objects for the work you’re doing there.

To start, consider exporting feature objects from GMS as a shapefile. You can draw arcs in a coverage and then use the right-click menu in the Project Explorer to export the information. There are three options for file type, so make sure to select "Shapefile (*.shp)" from the Save as type drop-down. Once you click Save in the Export Coverage dialog, another dialog opens that allows you to choose what kinds of shapefiles you want to save. There are arc, point, and polygon shapefiles. Once you've exported the shapefiles, they can be imported into ArcGIS Pro using that program’s Add Data function on the Map ribbon tab.

Exporting a shapefile from GMS

It's important to keep in mind that when GMS feature objects get exported to a shapefile, there are a couple of other file types that get exported with them. It's important to keep all of the files together because the shapefile is not complete without those other files. For example, one of the file types has projection information that lets other GIS programs, like ArcGIS Pro, know where the shapefile is located geographically. Without it, the shapefile is not attached to specific geographic coordinates, making it far less useful. You might consider putting all the files created in the shapefile together in a folder. This could help keep them together if you choose to relocate them after creating them.

GMS also allows for exporting of contour features and MODPATH particle tracking lines as shapefiles. However, these shapefiles do not appear when they are imported into ArcGIS Pro. Fortunately, there is a workaround for this issue. The shapefiles that GMS creates can be imported back into GMS after being exported. Then you can convert them to feature objects. Once they are converted to feature objects, you can use the same process described above to turn them into shapefiles that ArcGIS Pro can visualize.

GMS also has the ability to import shapefiles created or edited in ArcGIS Pro. Points, arcs, or polygons can be created in GMS, exported to ArcGIS Pro, edited in ArcGIS Pro, then saved and subsequently imported back into GMS. ArcGIS Pro also has exporting tools that can create shapefiles, CAD data, or other types of data for GMS to import.

There are other kinds of information that can be exported and imported between the two programs. Both programs have means for exporting and importing text files; 2D UGrids and other geometries in GMS can be exported as shapefiles; Rasters, scatter datasets, and other forms of data can also be transferred between GMS and ArcGIS Pro. In short, importing and exporting between these two programs has many possibilities.

Explore exporting and importing tools in GMS today!

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Importing Data into CityWater

Do you have a project you want to import into CityWater? CityWater manages water distribution network models across local areas. Furthermore it empowers organizations to allow accessing and viewing of projects by multiple users.

A Citywater project is based on an initial project created in EPANET or Aquaveo's Watershed Modeling System (WMS). Once you have an EPANET project, you can upload it to the CityWater site. Currently, CityWater only accepts EPANET INP files. If you need to, you can download an EPANET application to convert a file to an INP file. Uploading may take some time depending on multiple factors such as:

  • The size of the file being uploaded
  • The availability of the server
  • The complexity of the area modeled in the file
  • Including fire flow options with the import

Uploading can range anywhere from less than a minute to twenty minutes or longer.

Processing status for CityWater INP import

Note that you cannot edit your uploaded file once it has been uploaded into CityWater. Any changes that need to be made to the model will need to be made in EPANET or Aquaveo's WMS application. It is strongly encouraged to review the INP file before importing it into CityWater.

If you have discovered that the imported project either needs changes or did not import correctly, you will likely need to delete the entire project, start over, and reupload the newly changed project. For this reason, we recommend that you review the project after it finishes uploading, before proceeding with using the tools in CityWater.

If the project file failed to import into CityWater, it could for a few different reasons:

  • There was an issue communicating with the server
  • The file is not a recognized file type
  • There is an issue with the CityWater new project parameters
  • There is an issue with the INP file
  • There is an issue with the EPANET project design

In most cases, these issues can be resolved by reviewing the INP file and attempting to import the file again. Try importing your EPANET file to CityWater today!

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Organizing Project Files in SMS 13.2

Like most other data in Windows, SMS project files save into a directory that can be accessed via the Windows File Explorer. In SMS 13.2, the main project file gets saved with the ".sms" extension and most of the data and model information gets saved inside folders that appear alongside this main project file. The SMS file depends on those other files for the information about the project, and it will be incomplete without them. Comparison of file organization between SMS 13.2 and SMS 13.1

The names of the folders that appear next to the SMS project file depend on what kind of model is being built in SMS. For example, when an SRH-2D simulation is saved, a folder appears next to the SMS project file titled with the name of the tutorial followed by "_models." Additionally, some model will create an additional model folder with necessary components. For example, if a TUFLOW model is saved in the project, a folder named "TUFLOW" appears. For every SMS project file created by SMS 13.2, there is a folder created alongside it that starts with the name of the tutorial and ends with "_data".

The project folder needs every file created alongside it in order to be complete. This means it's essential to move all the files relevant to the project at once. SMS has a feature that "packages" the entire project for you. This feature facilitates keeping the files together when transferring the project to a different computer or a different user. To use this feature, select the File | Save As Package command in SMS. It puts all the contents of the project into a ZIP file that can then be moved to another location. When the ZIP file is unzipped in a different location, all of the necessary components for the project will be present and ready to use.

Now, while most of the data gets saved in two folders alongside the project, there are some files that get saved outside of those folders in the same folder as the project itself. If you are going to move the project without saving it as a package first, then remember to move every file pertinent to the package to the new location. We recommend saving each project in a separate folder to keep clear what information is relevant to a particular project.

It needs to be noted that when you are saving SMS files, the Windows character path length limit of 256 characters will apply. In order to make certain that SMS can access component files and subfolders for a project, SMS has a 150 character limit for the path length. This includes both the character in the project file name and the character of all folders leading to the project file.

Check out the project file organization in SMS 13.2 today!

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Using Layer Range Options in GMS

The conceptual model approach in GMS is a very useful way to assign specific attributes to a MODFLOW model without having to manually input them cell by cell. One particularly helpful tool available in a GMS coverage is the "Layer Range" option.

Example of the Coverage Setup for Layer Ranges

Layer range can be used in addition to other coverage choices—such as streams, wells, rivers, head boundary, etc.—allowing you to be as precise as you need to be when applying your model attributes.

In the past, we have mentioned this tool in a blog post about assigning Ugrid attributes to specific layers, but that is only one of many helpful ways to use it. Here, we will go over each of the options available with the Layer Range, and exactly how they work.

First, turn on this option by selecting "Layer Range" in the sources/sinks column of the coverage setup dialog. At the bottom of this dialog, make sure that the default layer range for the coverage covers all the parts of your grid that you wish to use.

Second, apply feature objects to your coverage. In our example, we have created a Time-Variant Specified Head arc.

Example of the Layer Range Assignment in GMS

Once your feature objects are in place, you can assign values to them in the attribute table. This is where the Layer Range settings will come into play.

  • Use Layer Range: This option applies your feature objects to a specific range of layers. That range is selected in the attribute table under "From Layer" and "To Layer". A feature point assigned a layer range of 2–6 will be applied to every cell in that vertical column from layer 2 to layer 6.
    Similarly, a polygon or arc will apply its attributes to the whole assigned layer range for every vertical column that it intersects.
  • Auto-Assign BC to One Cell: Any time you want only one cell per column, you can choose "Auto-Assign BC to One Cell". This setting is especially useful when mapping an object type that can't or shouldn't be applied to more than one vertical cell at a time. Stream arcs are one example.
    Auto-assigning to one cell will use the elevation inputs from your feature object to choose the most applicable cell in that vertical column to receive the assigned attributes.
  • Auto-Assign BC Including Lower Cells: This setting allows the coverage to automatically calculate which initial layer the object is applicable to, similar to the "One Cell" option. It then applies the object to that cell, and to everything below it within the range of the coverage.
    Including the lower cells is very useful when you do want more than one vertical cell to be assigned, but need different layer ranges for different parts of the same feature object.

Once you have selected the Layer Range option that best suits your model, you can map the coverage to your simulation. The results can be viewed in the MODFLOW | Optional Packages dialogs, as well as the Sources/Sinks table in the right-click menu for the grid cells.

The Layer Range tool is a great way to get your model attributes as specific as you need them to be without any laborious manual editing. Try it out in your GMS model today.

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Using the ADCIRC Levee Elevation Tools

Have you needed a way to quickly fix a levee structure in your 2D mesh for your ADCIRC model? The SMS toolbox has tools devoted to helping you develop ADCIRC models that accurately reflect levee elevations. That’s our focus in today's blog post.

The elevations on your levee can affect the outcome of your ADCIRC model. What's more, having the wrong levee elevations can even cause your ADCIRC model to fail its run. But the Check/Fix Levee Crest Elevations tool and the Check/Fix Levee Ground Elevations tool are designed to help mitigate this issue. These tools ensure that the elevations both on the ground and on the crest of your ADCIRC levee feature match the desired measurements.

For example, an ADCIRC model run can fail because the levee ground elevation is higher than the levee crest elevation. The Check/Fix Levee Ground Elevations tool checks the ADCIRC domain elevation against the boundary condition coverage that defines the levees. Then, if adjustments are required, the Check/Fix Levee Ground Elevations tool creates a new dataset that can be mapped as the elevation for the 2D mesh.

On the other side of things, the Check/Fix Levee Crest Elevations tool can help ensure that the crest of the levee in the model does not go above or below the known measurements for the levee crest. A check line is either created in a coverage or imported into SMS then converted to a coverage. The check line has levee crest elevation information against which the Z values of the levee arcs get checked. If the levee crest elevations vary too much from the check line’s elevations, then the Check/Fix Levee Crest Elevations tool adjusts the z values on the levee arcs to match the check line.

Example of the ADCIRC Check/Fix Levee Crest Elevations tool

In short, the Check/Fix Levee Crest Elevations and the Check/Fix Levee Ground Elevations tool can facilitate your modeling of ADCIRC levee features.

Try out these new levee elevation tools in SMS today!

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