Aquaveo & Water Resources Engineering News

2 Ways to Import ArcGIS Files into WMS

ArcGIS software has long been a standard in generating geographic data. It is likely you will have received a shapefile generated in ArcMap at some point. ArcGIS files can be imported into WMS to save you time in recreating geographic data.

There are two main methods for importing ArcGIS data: through the standard open dialog or through the GIS module.

Standard Method

To import ArcGIS files into WMS:

  1. Select the Open command in the File menu.
  2. Make certain the Files of Type field is set to "All Files" or "Shapefiles".
  3. Browse to your file and open it.

That’s all you need to do. You can also use any other standard methods for opening files such as using the Open macro or dragging the file onto the Graphics Window. There is also a command to open shapefiles in the Data menu in the GIS module.

Right-clicking on the the imported shapefile in the GIS module allows joining table and layer data. This data can then be mapped onto a coverage using the Shapes → Feature Objects command in the Mapping menu.

A grid coming from ArcGIS will be imported as a DEM in the Terrain Data module . A TIN will also be imported into the Terrain Data module.

GIS Module

When the GIS Module is active, you can use commands to directly import ArcGIS data into WMS. To do this:

  1. Make certain the GIS module is active.
  2. Select the Data | Add Shapefile Data command.

  3. or

  4. Select the Data | Add GIS Data command.
  5. Use the file browser to locate your files and import them.

This second method is useful for a wider range of ArcGIS data files. If a file does not open correctly using the standard methods, then importing the file through the GIS module is recommended.

DEMs and TIN files opened through the GIS module will be imported into the GIS module instead of the Terrain module.

Take a look at what other GIS tools are offered in WMS.

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Using Snapping in SMS

In many projects, you might find a need for nodes or vertices to line up exactly. You can achieve this by using the Snapping feature in SMS. Snapping nodes to arcs can be accomplished two ways in SMS: by cleaning and by using the snapping crosshairs. In some cases, two arcs might need to be very close to each other but not snapped to the same nodes or vertices on a mesh. This post will discuss how all of this works.

Clean Option

The Clean option allows any two nodes on the same coverage to be "snapped" together To snap two nodes on the same coverage:

  1. Select the desired nodes.
  2. Select the Clean... command from the Feature Objects menu.
  3. In the Clean Options dialog, turn on Snap selected nodes.
  4. Select the desired node as the snapping point.

The nodes will be merged into one node at the desired location.

Nodes and vertices can also be snapped using a tolerance value. This will snap all nodes in the coverage to be within the tolerance.

  1. Select the Clean... command from the Feature Objects menu.
  2. In the Clean Options dialog, turn on Snap nodes and vertices.
  3. Set the Tolerance level.

The tolerance units are the same as those set in the projection. This method may cause vertices to be redistributed along some arcs, so it should used carefully.

Snapping Feature

If Snapping is turned on the Map tab in the Preferences dialog (see image below), red crosshairs (see image below) will appear when creating an arc and the mouse moves near an existing node or vertex. This indicates that the node or vertex will snap to the existing node or vertex in the coverage. If two vertices snap, they turn into a single node. Snapping can be turned on and off when in the Map module by pressing "S" on the keyboard.

Snapping Across Multiple Coverages

To snap across multiple coverages, Inactive coverages must be turned on in the Display Options dialog. This prevents nodes or vertices from appearing to be snapped when they are not (see the images below). The first shows what appears to be two vertices that are snapped. The second shows a zoomed view showing they are not actually snapped.

Snapping can also occur between a coverage and a geometry such as a mesh or a grid.

Nodes That Should Not Be Snapped

Keep in mind that if two boundary arcs are close to the same node(s) on the mesh or grid, a simulation may snap them to the same node(s) within the simulation, which may cause errors. This can be fixed by either refining the mesh or grid so there are more nodes to use, or by moving one or more of the arcs slightly.

Try using the snapping feature today in the Community Edition of SMS.

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Creating a Transient Animation

After creating a transient dataset, it can be time consuming to click through each time step to evaluate the changes over time. One of the fastest ways to view changes in transient data is to create an animation.

Creating an animation in GMS can be done quickly using the Animation Wizard.

Once you have a transient dataset with multiple time steps in your project, do the following:

  1. Select the dataset you want to animate and make certain your project is displayed how you want to see it in the Graphics Window. The animation will be created from what is visible in the Graphics Window.
  2. Select the Animate command in the Display menu to open the Animation Wizard.
  3. In the first part of the Animation Wizard, select where you want to save your animation, what file type you wish to use and the animation quality.
  4. In the second part of the Animation Wizard, set your time duration and add a display clock. The options here will vary depending on what options were selected in the first part of the Animation Wizard.
  5. When you click Finish, GMS will create your animation.

If you selected the AVI file format, GMS will display it for you in the Play AVI Animation application (Pavia). This player is included with your installation of GMS. If you selected the KMZ format, GMS will display your animation in Google Earth (if it is installed).

Once you’ve created an animation, you can view it again when you reopen the project. To do this, select the Play Animation command in the Display menu. This will tell GMS to locate the animation file associated with the project and open it in the AVI player. This operation only works for AVI files.

Files can be exported in either AVI format or KMZ format. The AVI file can be used with most other video players, including Windows Media Player or QuickTime Player. KMZ files can be opened with Google Earth.

With the basics down, you can now try creating animations for your own projects in GMS.

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3 Ways to Download Images in WMS

Many projects start with an image, because we like to see what we’ll be working on. It’s always possible to import an image file, but if you don’t already have an image file, then what? Well, when WMS is able to access the internet, it can download an image for you.

The advantages of online images are that they can be seamlessly integrated into projects, data is available for locations throughout the world, and they can be reprojected to the display projection without needing to georeference the image.

To download an image, WMS provides three tools: Get Online Maps, Get Data From Map, and the Get Data tool.

1. Use the Get Online Maps Tool

The Get Online Maps tool connects to a data server where real world images and data can be downloaded into your project. To use the Get Online Maps tool:

  1. Click on the Get Online Maps macro . This will bring up the Virtual Earth Map Locator dialog, if there is not a projection already set in the project.
  2. In the Virtual Earth Map Locator dialog, find the location where you want to retrieve data.
  3. Next, the Get Online Maps dialog appears where you select which type of data you want to retrieve, (i.e., a topographic map or elevation data).
  4. Download the image.

The downloaded image is a dynamic image. This means it will redownload data when you zoom in or out in WMS. The image has not been saved locally at this point. To save:

  1. Right-click and select Export.
  2. Use the Resample and Export Raster dialog.
  3. Enter the file name.

This saves a static image to your hard drive. It can then be used again in the future.

2. Use the Get Data From Map Tool

If you don’t want to get a dynamic image, you can skip directly to downloading a static image. To do this:

  1. Click on the Get Data From Map icon to bring up the Virtual Earth Map Locator.
  2. Select the desired location in the Virtual Earth Map Locator dialog. If you have a projection set or have previously downloaded an image, this dialog will be show that area.
  3. The Data Services Options dialog will appear next. Select the type of data you want to retrieve.
  4. WMS will then ask you to save the file as a static image before downloading the data into your project.

With the Get Data From Map tool, you have a static image ready for use in your project with the file available for other projects if needed.

3. Use the Get Data Tool

The Get Data tool allows you to retrieve an image for a specific location in your project. The project display projection must be set to an appropriate “Global projection” option for this to work.

  1. Select the Get Data icon and draw a box in the Graphics Window to select the desired area for the image.
  2. Select a data type in the Data Services Options dialog.
  3. You will then be asked to save the file as a static image.

Now you will have image data that only covers the area you drew out in the first step. This is helpful when you only need a specific piece of data, or data only for a specific location.

Try out these three ways to download image data in WMS today. We recommend experimenting a little so you can learn all the different ways these images can be used.

  • Note that in 2017, the server used by the WMS online map tools was discontinued by Microsoft. A new server has been selected and is used in the current version of WMS. Because of this, older versions of WMS may not be able to use the online map tools.
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Tracing Municipal Water System Flow

Contaminants getting your municipal water system down? Using CityWater to create an animation tracing the flow of water through the system could help resolve this.

Tracing the flow of water through a municipal pipe system can help with figuring out how quickly a contaminant can propagate through the system, and also figuring out the general flow pattern of water throughout the system.

Some of the biggest concerns on city water manager minds in the last few years are preventing contamination in water systems and figuring out how quickly a contaminant spreads if water system integrity is compromised. Mention contaminated water, and examples such as the problems in Flint, Michigan come immediately to mind.

Contaminants can enter the system many different ways, including through broken pipes or leaching off the pipes themselves. If the pressure within a water system fluctuates too much, even a small break in a pipe can pull in any contaminants in the area. Using a trace animation in CityWater can provide a baseline for how far the contaminant may have gone.

It can also be important to know the flow from a particular location to anywhere else within the water system. This can be used to determine how quickly a flush of the system occurs, for example, and it provides a visual way to show the flow instead of looking at charts of numbers. It could also be used to determine what parts of the water system will be impacted by the introduction of a new pump or tank.

A trace animation can be generated in CityWater by doing the following:

  1. Open the map for the project.
  2. Select “Quality” for both Node and Link Layers.
  3. Click on the Animate Layers icon at the bottom right (below the legend).

This requires that the Quality Method parameter is set to TRACE and the Quality Trace Node is defined in Global Options. To do this:

  1. Go to your Project Details page.
  2. Select the Model Options tab.
  3. Edit the Global Options to turn on the TRACE option and define the Quality Trace Node.

Try creating trace flow animations in CityWater today by going to the Aquaveo Portal. Use “trycitywater” as the username and password.

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Using Zonal Classification in SMS

Needing to identify part of your model that is prone to flooding? Or do areas of your project need to be marked off as a fish habitat?

While there are many tools in SMS that can be used to designate areas of a project as something different, one of the easier ways is to use Zonal Classification tool.

  1. Begin with opening your project containing scalar data. The scalar data can be loaded into the Scatter module, or be part of a 2D mesh or 2D grid.

  2. Next, open the Zonal Classification tool. Do this by selecting the Zonal Classification menu command in the Data menu in either the Scatter, Mesh, or Grid module.


  3. Once the Zonal Classification dialog is open, start setting criteria to define your zones. In the section titled “Zones”, click the New button to create your zone. You can define multiple zones at once while in the dialog.

  4. Once you’ve created your zones, you can define the criteria for each zone. Select the zone and click the New button in the Criteria List section. The criteria can be one of two types: a function criteria or a material criteria.

    As you’ve probably guessed, function criteria use a formula you specify to create the zone. Say you want to identify areas on your mesh below an elevation of 50 feet because those are areas you need to mark off as being prone to flooding. You’ll select the Function criteria option, select your elevation dataset, check the Less than option and enter a Value of 50.

    Similarly, you can choose to create zones based on materials. The materials need to have already been defined in the project before this option can be used. Once the materials are defined, you can create zones that either include or exclude areas of your projects where the zones overlap your scalar data.

  5. Finally, once, you’ve defined your criteria, you can have SMS create a new map coverage with polygons around the defined zone areas.

Try using zonal classification in SMS today!

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Adding Notes in GMS

It happens from time to time—part of your groundwater model has something special that needs mentioning before handing it over to someone else. You may want to differentiate between two similar coverages without giving them long names, you may need to describe the real world source of a scatter set, or you need to explain how a quadtree was generated.

GMS provides an effective way to add notes to objects and datasets in order to aid in model development. There are two ways to add notes to objects in GMS.

The first is to add notes to object properties by doing the following:

  1. Right-click on an object in the Project Explorer and select the Properties command.
  2. In the Properties dialog, click on the Notes to tab to see all notes associated with the object.
  3. Click on the Add Row button to create a row where you can add your notes. The date and time you enter the note will automatically be added.

GMS can also automatically create notes when UGrids, datasets, and coverages are created. Using this feature requires that the Create GMS Notes Automatically option be turned on in the Preferences dialog.

As your project grows, you may find some notes are no longer needed. You can delete notes by going into the Properties dialog and deleting notes individual. If you have several notes that need to be removed, deleting them individually could be a hassle. GMS makes it easier by placing all notes contained in a project into one location.

  1. Select the Notes command in the Edit menu to bring up a dialog with all notes made in the project.
  2. From this dialog, you can select and delete multiple unwanted notes.

Now that you’ve seen how to create notes, try adding notes to your projects in GMS 10.3.

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Exporting a Delimited Text File

Sometimes, the best way to share your solution data is through a text file. Data in text files can be formatted in a variety of ways, but delimited text files are supported by the widest range of applications out there.

Creating a delimited text file out of your SMS project is a little different than simply exporting the project as a text file.

  1. Select the Save As command in the File menu.
  2. In the Save As dialog, change the File type to be Tabular Data File (*.txt). This tells SMS you want to create a delimited text file.
  3. Enter a name for your file and make certain it is being saved to the correct directory.

After clicking Save in the Save As dialog, the Export Tabular File dialog should appear. In this dialog, you can specify how you want SMS to organize your file. You can select how many columns you want to have in your file and how those columns are going to be separated using a space, tab, or comma.

Importantly, you will need to select which data you want to have exported. You can select which mesh, grid, or scatter set you’d like to use, then define what will go in each column of the file.

The names of the column heads can be specified. If this option is used, the name of each column must entered in the column spreadsheet at the bottom of the dialog.

Clicking on the Data buttons in the column spreadsheet at the bottom of the dialog will bring up a dialog that lets you pick which datasets to include in each column. Normally, this will be your x, y, and z values. However, if you have more columns you can include other datasets. Both steady state and transient data can be exported.

You can also choose to have metadata saved with your file. This could include data such as the project projection or a polygon around the data boundaries.

Once done with organizing your file, click OK in the Export Tabular File dialog to save out your file. You can now send the text file to colleagues or use it in other projects with any software that can support a text file.

Try creating a delimited text file in the SMS today.

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GMS MODFLOW and ArcHydro Training in Yerevan, Armenia

In January, Aquaveo sent Alan Lemon to Yerevan, Armenia to conduct a training course on using MODFLOW in GMS, and using ArcHydro Groundwater. The training covered the basics of using both GMS and ArcHydro Groundwater, as well as some specifics on how these tools could be applied in Armenia to help increase the efficiency of groundwater resource management. These trainings are very hands-on, which helps the participants more quickly learn how to use the tools.

Topics demonstrated and discussed included learning how to build customized AHGW geodatabases, and how to import, manage, and visualize various types of data for structures such as boreholes. The training also covered importing, editing, and visualizing 2D and 3D hydrogeologic models complete with cross sections and maps showing water levels and quality.

Members of the course included representatives from the Water Resources Management Agency and the Environmental Monitoring and Information Center of the Ministry of Nature Protection (MNP), Institute of Geological Sciences of the National Academy of Sciences of Armenia, the International Agribusiness Teaching Center at Armenian National Agrarian University, the American University of Armenia, and Yerevan State University.

This training was arranged by ME&A (Mendez England & Associates) as part of their ASPIRED (Advanced Science & Partnerships for Integrated Resource Development) program. We appreciate their help in arranging the training, and we appreciate the time and effort of all of the ministry and university participants. Despite having to work through a translator, all of the participants were focused and engaged, and a good rapport was developed.

We had a very enjoyable time there. To schedule your own onsite training course, visit the Aquaveo site today.

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3 Great Features in SMS 12.3 Beta

Every new version of software comes with many new features and updates. The release of SMS 12.3 Beta is no different, with scores of updates and tweaks to make the user experience better. Most of these changes are behind the scenes, but we’d like to highlight three features which will prove very useful to our users.

1. Generating an observation arc plot

Right-clicking on an arc in an observation coverage now has the option to directly generate an observation profile plot from the selected arc. This allows you to see the elevations for the stream at that location. It is also faster than using the Plot Wizard. Simply use the Select Feature Arc tool to right-click on the specific arc and select Show Observation Plot.

2. Transparency options for filled polygons in the Map module

A transparency can now be set for filled polygons in the Map module. This means that materials coverages and other filled polygons can be better aligned with other coverages and GIS data such as background maps. Open the Display Options dialog, select "Map" from the list on the left, and turn on Fill in the Polygon section to access the Transparency slider.

3. Setting the Default Contour Range options

Some models include spin up or ramp times during which the numerical results are not within a typical range. This option provides a method for instructing SMS to skip these atypical or unreasonable values from impacting the default ranges of the contours computed.

Select Edit | Preferences… to bring up the Preferences dialog, then click Default Range Options in the Transient Contours section of the General tab to bring up the Default Transient Contour Range dialog. The dialog allows the first n time steps or hours to be skipped when creating the contour range, or to use the current time step.

Try out these features today by downloading the SMS 12.3 Beta.

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