Aquaveo & Water Resources Engineering News

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.


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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Using a 2D UGrid with SRH-2D

A 2D mesh in SMS has long been the standard geometry for SRH-2D simulations. However, you might have noticed in more recent versions of SMS that SRH-2D simulations can also use 2D unstructured grids (UGrids). Today, we examine what using a 2D UGrid can mean for SMS users who model SRH-2D simulations.

Being able to use a UGrid offers a couple advantages. For one, 2D UGrids don't require the SRH-2D Post-Processor because, unlike 2D meshes, they are already centroid-based. This means the SRH-2D results can be read directly onto the 2D UGrid. Additionally, the same SRH-2D model can be run with a mesh and then run with a 2D UGrid. Since the two geometries differ in how they store data, this practice might be helpful in troubleshooting issues with the geometry design for your model. In most cases where the mesh is well built, there should not be significant differences between the results you get from a UGrid-based SRH-2D simulation and a mesh-based simulation.

The steps for creating a 2D UGrid for an SRH-2D simulation are essentially the same as creating a 2D mesh:

  1. Build a mesh generation coverage with polygons.
  2. Specify what kind of grid-like structure you want in each.
  3. Instead of converting the coverage to a 2D mesh, convert it to a 2D UGrid.

An already-existing 2D mesh can also be converted to a 2D UGrid if so desired.

Example of the 2D Mesh Polygon Properties dialog being used for UGrid or mesh generation

It's important to note that there are not yet any manual tools for editing 2D UGrids, so any desired adjustments to a 2D UGrid should be made before the UGrid is generated. As with the 2D mesh, this can be done by double-clicking in the polygons in the mesh generation coverage and using the dialogs that appear.

Furthermore, the principles for creating a quality mesh apply to creating a quality 2D UGrid. The quality of a UGrid is just as important to the model outcome as the quality of a mesh. In 2D UGrids for SRH-2D simulations, please keep in mind the following:

  • The elements should transition gradually from large to small and vice versa. Adjacent elements should not have enormous variations in size.
  • Areas that need more refined results should have finer quality elements.
  • For areas that use the patch option, the elements should be fairly even.
  • Triangular elements should not be excessively narrow.

These are only some of the considerations.

Much of this can be avoided by making sure that the mesh generator coverage is designed correctly. Again, adjustments to the 2D UGrid can really only be made in the mesh generator coverage before the UGrid has actually been generated.

Try using 2D UGrids in an SRH-2D simulation in SMS today!

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New Features in GMS 10.7 Beta

We are pleased to announce that GMS 10.7 has been released in beta. In order to improve your groundwater modeling projects, we’ve included many new features into GMS 10.7. Here are a few of the new features we are excited about.

Animation Tools Allow Exporting in MP4 File Formats

GMS 10.7 has been improved to allow you to save your animation files in the MP4 format. This will enable you to open animation files outside GMS and view the animation created before returning to GMS. An MP4 file is a common animation file that allows you to open the animation in a number of different player applications.

Introduction of the New Toolbox Features
Example of the Toolbox in GMS 10.7

GMS has added a new Toolbox feature. This Toolbox contains many different tools for completing common calculations and functions in GMS. For example, the new Toolbox contains a tool for merging datasets and another tool for converting geometries to an unstructured grid. We have provided dozens of tools in the Toolbox to work with a wide range of data, so we recommend looking through the available tools to see what would be of most use for your projects.

Many of the tools in the Toolbox can be used instead of using the Data Calculator. This shortcuts some of the processes to help you build your groundwater model faster. Additional tools will be added in future versions of GMS. If you have a common process that you would like to see added as a new tool in the Toolbox, please let us know.

Updated MDT Package for MODFLOW 6

In MODFLOW 6 has updated the MDT package. The MDT package allows for matrix delineation transport as well as shifting matrix delineation start time. Improvements have been made to how this package works with MODFLOW 6 in GMS.

These are just a few of the features that are a part of GMS 10.7 beta. Try out these features and more by downloading GMS 10.7 Beta today!

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Trimming DEMs in WMS

Have you imported a DEM into WMS but wanted to trim it down to use only a part of the original data? WMS has tools designed to help you trim DEMs that you have imported into WMS, so you can use only the part of the data that's relevant to your model. In this article, we explore the ways that this can be done in WMS.

Trimming a DEM can help eliminate extra data that is not necessary for your project. Having a DEM that is too large or contains data that is irrelevant to your project can cause your project to operate slower and in some cases can skew the results of your project.

One option for trimming a DEM is when it's part of the GIS Data Module as a raster. To do this, draw a feature object polygon in a map coverage then select it. With the polygon selected, you can right-click on the raster and select the Convert To | Trimmed Raster command. This trims the raster along the border of the polygon. The trimmed raster can be converted, if desired, to a DEM that will show up under the Terrain Data folder.

Of course, there are also tools for trimming files that are already in the Terrain Data Module as DEMs. These tools can be accessed either through the DEM menu when in the Terrain Data Module or through the right-click menu for a DEM item in the Project Explorer. In both places, the tools are found in the Trim submenu.

There are two ways to trim DEMs in the Terrain Data Module: by elevation and by polygon.

When trimming a DEM by elevation, WMS brings up a dialog that lets you specify the maximum elevation that you want the DEM trimmed to. The newly created DEM will have only elevations up to the maximum elevation set in this dialog. The contours will likely change to represent the new range of values in the trimmed DEM.

Example of trimming a DEM using a polygon in WMS

When trimming a DEM using a polygon, the program turns the mouse into a tool to click out the polygon in the Graphics Window. To finish the polygon, double-click where the last point is desired. Once the polygon is complete, the trimmed DEM is automatically created.

Note that a DEM created this way is still a rectangle. This is part of the definition of a DEM. However, only the points inside the drawn polygon will be active, so the displayed contours will end at the borders of the polygon you drew. The points that were outside the drawn polygon, which make up the rest of the bounding rectangle, are set to NODATA.

Take advantage of DEM trimming tools in WMS today!

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The Create Bridge Footprint Tool in SMS 13.2

Do you have an SMS project with a bridge represented in the mesh? SMS 13.2 offers a new tool called Create Bridge Footprint that assists in representing bridge footprints in SRH-2D simulations.

Since the real-life effects of bridges can be complex, creating a mesh to represent them is often challenging. Modeling piers and abutments using older methods in SMS requires many polygons in Mesh Generation coverages. Now, the Create Bridge Footprint tool provides an alternative approach to creating an unstructured mesh under and around a bridge structure. Note that this tool replaces the functionality made available in the Bridge-Piers coverage, which you might have been using in SMS 13.1. However, many of the same settings are incorporated in this tool as well.

The Create Bridge Footprint tool, located in the Toolbox dialog, produces a coverage and mesh that represent the bridge footprint. These features can then be used to create a mesh that incorporates the bridge footprint into the larger mesh for the model.

Example of the Create Bridge Footprint Tool

The set up for the tool includes creating a new coverage with arcs that define the new bridge:

  • The first arc should define the centerline of the bridge. It is the longest arc.
  • Other arcs, drawn across the first arc, define where the piers and abutments are located. The length of the piers is set in the tool parameters before the tool is run, so the length of these arcs is unimportant.

When drawing the feature arcs to represent the bridge for the tool, there are some important things to keep in mind. One of them is that the bridge feature arcs must be the only feature objects in the coverage. Any other objects will confuse the Create Bridge Footprint tool.

It's also important to make sure that all of the shorter arcs cross the centerline, but none of them should intersect the centerline. In this case, intersecting is different from crossing in that it creates a node on both arcs. This splits the centerline arc, making it impossible for the tool to interpret the intended meaning of the arcs.

After setting up the arcs, there are some parameters to set in the tool to complete the model of the bridge. Then the tool can be run and the resulting mesh and coverage reviewed, and you're one step closer to completing your model.

Try the Create Bridge Footprint tool in SMS 13.2 today!

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