SGMApy: An open source platform for computing sustainability metrics and visualizing MODFLOW data

Science Center Objects

Climate change and demographic changes have underscored the need to improve effectiveness of managing valuable water resources for sustainability. In 2014, the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) established a framework for sustainable, local groundwater management. SGMA requires groundwater-dependent regions to halt overdraft and bring basins into balanced levels of pumping and recharge.

In each basin, a groundwater sustainability agency (GSA) defines a path toward sustainability using sustainable management criteria (SMC). Each selected SMC must (1) have a sustainability goal, (2) delineate undesirable results, (3) provide minimum thresholds to evaluate sustainability using measurable objectives and (4) have defined milestones as indicators of successful basin recovery. Each GSA must define a groundwater sustainability plan (GSP) between now and 2022. The California Department of Water Resources (DWR) has suggested that SMC used in their GSPs include changes in groundwater storage and fluxes, groundwater elevations at sentinel observation wells, changes in water quality, surface water storage, surface-water groundwater exchange, and surface water flows.

SGMApywill be useful for evaluating sustainability scenarios, development of SMCs, and SGMA reporting. This framework will provide a timely solution to aide GSAs with development of GSPs and annual reporting for SGMA. The sustainability framework could also be used to generate graphics for USGS Scientific Investigation Reports, journal articles, and for web distribution of model output and analysis. The sustainability framework will be a useful tool for building value in our existing cooperative agreements.


Many GSAs are developing MODFLOW based groundwater models to develop their SMC. However, there is no available framework to coordinate use of these models for sustainability evaluations and development of SMCs and generate diagnostic plots of budgets and SMCs. There is no unified MODFLOW output utility for budgets and assessments. There is need for tools to extract and plot MODFLOW budgets and hydrograph data for annual reporting, website presentation, and stakeholder engagement. Moreover, an interface is needed to extract model budgets and plots by less technical users.


Although hydrologic models and observations can provide data to develop and evaluate sustainable management criteria (SMC), aggregating these data into budgets and diagnostic plots can take significant time and effort. A MODFLOW model framework that can be used to develop, evaluate, and plot SMC will serve stakeholders and scientists alike.

The proposed work has synergy with other currently funded projects such as the development of preliminary proto-type web-based tools for hydrologic analyses for the Regional Groundwater Availability Study of the California Coastal Basins under the Water Availability and Use Science Program (WAUSP), and the development of monitoring plans along with design and evaluation of monitoring networks for our contract with DWR for SGMA investigations. Synergy between the proposed work and these other programs presents an opportunity to provide a value-added component to those projects and can facilitate technology transfer among participants of these projects and the proposed project team. It will be a collaborative effort, leveraging expertise from the Watershed, Ecology and Integrated Hydrologic Modeling and Groundwater Availability and Use CAWSC program groups.

Science Plan

Scientists will design and develop pre and post-processing tools to extract water budget components and hydrologic indicators associated with SMC at user-defined spatial and temporal scales.