Aquaveo & Water Resources Engineering News

Tips for Flow Budget in GMS

In any groundwater model, knowing how much of the groundwater is available for use determines the fate of any project planned for the area. It is often a crucial part of a model to determine an accurate water budget or flow budget. MODFLOW can calculate its own flow budget and can also make use of the ZONEBUDGET program to calculate the water budget for subregions of a model. Knowing how to use both the MODFLOW flow budget and the ZONEBUDGET program greatly enhances the value of models built in GMS.


With that in mind, here are some tips for making use of a flow budget and ZONEBUDGET in GMS:

  • If ZONEBUDGET is used to calculate a budget for the entire modeled area, the values for each budget term should match the MODFLOW budget except in situations where there are multiple stresses of the same kind in the same cell (e.g. a pumping well and a recharging well in the same cell).
  • You can confirm your approach by calculating the cumulative volumes for the entire model and seeing if they match the MODFLOW outputs.
  • Computer precision could be a cause of small discrepancies between the budgets produced by ZONEBUDGET and MODFLOW. ZONEBUDGET accumulates budget totals using double precision, and MODFLOW uses single precision. Because of the use of double precision, ZONEBUDGET's output should generally be more accurate than MODFLOW's; however, differences in output are not likely to be significant except for some very large models.
  • You can find the correct cumulative volume of water entering a given zone using the flow rate. This is done by multiplying the rate by the length of the corresponding time step.
  • Rates reported are for the same duration of the matching time step. Time steps stair step, so there the value is the same for the entire time step.

For an overview of ZONEBUDGET in GMS, see our tutorial and try it out in GMS today!

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Working with Large DEMs

Do you have a project that requires using a large DEM? Digital Elevation Model files are a great source for terrain data in WMS. A lot of projects require using DEMs which makes it important to use the data available.

Using a large DEM file can present some complications in WMS. A large file may cause the program to slow down or have difficulty processing. So it is important to make certain to use a DEM that contains mostly relevant data and doesn’t contain an excess of nonessential information.

But how do you know if the DEM data you are pulling is enough? Is more watershed data always better?

Example of DEM in WMS with contours turned on.

Pulling in more data doesn’t insure better results. Though WMS is able to handle a massive amount of data (which is not a guarantee) the hardware in your computer may not be able to handle it. In general, a DEM twice the size of your watershed is probably sufficient for most models. More than twice your watershed size tends to just bog down the model causing you to face unnecessary wait times.

What should you do if your watershed data is not loading?

If your data is taking a long time to load try adjusting the resolution. After using the Get Data from Map tool, and making your selection in the Data Service Options dialog, you will be able to select your desired resolution in the Zoom dialog. Selecting a lower resolution zoom level should make the DEM easier to work with in WMS.

You could also try breaking up the DEM into multiple DEMs. That way your computer is not overwhelmed by trying to download one huge file all at once. Then while you’re working on your model you can turn on just the DEM(s) you need.

Third party software can be used to break up the DEM or reduce the resolution.

DEMs remain an excellent source for data for projects in WMS. Download WMS today!

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