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Techniques and Methods 6–A51

Prepared in cooperation with the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation

One-Water Hydrologic Flow Model (MODFLOW-OWHM)

By R.T. Hanson, Scott E. Boyce, Wolfgang Schmid, Joseph D. Hughes, Steffen M. Mehl, Stanley A. Leake, Thomas Maddock III, and Richard G. Niswonger

Thumbnail of and link to report PDF (8.1 MB)Abstract

The One-Water Hydrologic Flow Model (MF-OWHM) is a MODFLOW-based integrated hydrologic flow model (IHM) that is the most complete version, to date, of the MODFLOW family of hydrologic simulators needed for the analysis of a broad range of conjunctive-use issues. Conjunctive use is the combined use of groundwater and surface water. MF-OWHM allows the simulation, analysis, and management of nearly all components of human and natural water movement and use in a physically-based supply-and-demand framework. MF-OWHM is based on the Farm Process for MODFLOW-2005 (MF-FMP2) combined with Local Grid Refinement (LGR) for embedded models to allow use of the Farm Process (FMP) and Streamflow Routing (SFR) within embedded grids. MF-OWHM also includes new features such as the Surface-water Routing Process (SWR), Seawater Intrusion (SWI), and Riparian Evapotrasnpiration (RIP-ET), and new solvers such as Newton-Raphson (NWT) and nonlinear preconditioned conjugate gradient (PCGN). This IHM also includes new connectivities to expand the linkages for deformation-, flow-, and head-dependent flows. Deformation-dependent flows are simulated through the optional linkage to simulated land subsidence with a vertically deforming mesh. Flow-dependent flows now include linkages between the new SWR with SFR and FMP, as well as connectivity with embedded models for SFR and FMP through LGR. Head-dependent flows now include a modified Hydrologic Flow Barrier Package (HFB) that allows optional transient HFB capabilities, and the flow between any two layers that are adjacent along a depositional or erosional boundary or displaced along a fault. MF-OWHM represents a complete operational hydrologic model that fully links the movement and use of groundwater, surface water, and imported water for consumption by irrigated agriculture, but also of water used in urban areas and by natural vegetation. Supply and demand components of water use are analyzed under demand-driven and supply-constrained conditions. From large- to small-scale settings, MF-OWHM has the unique set of capabilities to simulate and analyze historical, present, and future conjunctive-use conditions. MF-OWHM is especially useful for the analysis of agricultural water use where few data are available for pumpage, land use, or agricultural information. The features presented in this IHM include additional linkages with SFR, SWR, Drain-Return (DRT), Multi-Node Wells (MNW1 and MNW2), and Unsaturated-Zone Flow (UZF). Thus, MF-OWHM helps to reduce the loss of water during simulation of the hydrosphere and helps to account for “all of the water everywhere and all of the time.”

In addition to groundwater, surface-water, and landscape budgets, MF-OWHM provides more options for observations of land subsidence, hydraulic properties, and evapotranspiration (ET) than previous models. Detailed landscape budgets combined with output of estimates of actual evapotranspiration facilitates linkage to remotely sensed observations as input or as additional observations for parameter estimation or water-use analysis. The features of FMP have been extended to allow for temporally variable water-accounting units (farms) that can be linked to land-use models and the specification of both surface-water and groundwater allotments to facilitate sustainability analysis and connectivity to the Groundwater Management Process (GWM).

An example model described in this report demonstrates the application of MF-OWHM with the addition of land subsidence and a vertically deforming mesh, delayed recharge through an unsaturated zone, rejected infiltration in a riparian area, changes in demand caused by deficiency in supply, and changes in multi-aquifer pumpage caused by constraints imposed through the Farm Process and the MNW2 Package, and changes in surface water such as runoff, streamflow, and canal flows through SFR and SWR linkages.

First posted September 18, 2014

For additional information, contact:
Director, California Water Science Center
U.S. Geological Survey
6000 J Street, Placer Hall
Sacramento, California 95819-6129

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Suggested citation:

Hanson, R.T., Boyce, S.E., Schmid, Wolfgang, Hughes, J.D., Mehl, S.M., Leake, S.A., Maddock, Thomas, III, and Niswonger, R.G., 2014, One-Water Hydrologic Flow Model (MODFLOW-OWHM): U.S. Geological Survey Techniques and Methods 6–A51, 120 p.,

ISSN 2328-7055 (online)




Description of MF-OWHM

MF-OWHM Example Problem

Limitations and Future Enhancements

Summary and Conclusions

References Cited

Appendixes A-F

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