MODFLOW-OWHM: One Water Hydrologic Flow Model

Release Date:


schematic one water hydrologic model

Diagram showing the interdependencies of flows within a hydrologic system simulated by MF-OWHM (modified from Schmid and Hanson, 2009).

The One-Water Hydrologic Flow Model (MF-OWHM) (Hanson and others, 2014) 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 its use in a physically-based supply-and-demand framework.

MF-OWHM is based on the Farm Process for MODFLOW-2005 (MF-FMP2, Schmid and Hanson, 2009) that is now combined with Local Grid Refinement (LGR, Mehl and Hill, 2013) for embedded models to allow use of the Farm Process (FMP) and Streamflow Routing (SFR) within embedded grids. MF-OWHM also now includes new features such as the Surface-water Routing Process (SWR, Hughes and others, 2012), Seawater Intrusion (SWI, Bakker and others, 2013), and Riparian Evapotranspiration (RIP-ET, Maddock III and others, 2012). MF-OWHM contains all the previously available solvers and the new solvers such as Newton-Raphson (NWT, Niswonger and others, 2011) and the nonlinear preconditioned conjugate gradient (PCGN, Naff and Banta, 2008).

What makes MF-OWHM unique is that it allows the simulation of head-dependent flows, flow-dependent flows, and deformation dependent flows that collectively affect conjunctive use of water resources. The supply-constrained and demand-driven framework combined with the linkages between packages and processes provides relations of water use and movement, and helps to prevent mass loss to an open system thus facilitating the accounting for "all of the water everywhere and all of the time."


Program History

Version Highlights

MF-OWHM v1.00 is the first release and version of MF-OWHM that is a unification of the many separate versions of MODFLOW that have evolved for various classes of hydrologic issues. While this is the first version of MF-OWHM it is built primarily on the previous versions of MODFLOW-FMP2 with the Farm Process with supplementary structure from the second version of Local Grid Refinement (LGR2), and the latest version of NWT. In addition to this, modifications were made to the MF2005 source code that improve stability, accuracy and make the resulting software more "user friendly."

Version Information and Notes

MF-OWHM v1.00.00 11/05/2014 is the initial release.

Note: Users are encouraged to read the documents that are provided in the 'doc' directory of this software distribution.
Also see contents of the separate files: readme.txt, release.txt, MF_OWHM.txt, Mf2005.txt, Stack Overflow or Segmentation Fault Info.txt, and Examples_Description.txt


Downloads and Documentation

General Information

Current Release: v.1.0.12, 10/01/2016

The MF-OWHM release comes in a variety of different installation options that depend on your platform or desired level of information included (i.e. full documentation or just the executable). Within the distribution the word Win and Nix are used to delineate between MS Windows and GNU Unix, respectively. At a minimum all downloads include the MF-OWHM report, a compiled executable, a GNU Makefile, and the release/readme notes. Compiled binaries for GNU Unix and Linux distributions are provided as a convenience (they depend on glibc/libc6 to use GLIBC_2.14) and may require recompilation to work on your system. A user friendly makefile is provided, only requires setting 4 variables, to make recompilation easy with either the Intel (ifort/icc) or GNU (gfortran/gcc) compilers.

The general structure is "MF_OWHM_X_X", where X_X is the version number, as the main folder and within that are: a "bin" folder, which contains the executables, a “doc” folder, which contains all documentation, an "examples" folder, which contains example problems from MF2005, SWR, NWT, etc. and scripts to run them, a "src" folder, which contains all source code, and lastly, a "src_Postprocessors", which is the source code for HydFmt and Zonebudget.

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Software Downloads

Users are highly encouraged to read through the documentation located in the "doc" folder. If you use of this software please cite the USGS Techniques and Methods 6-A51 One-Water Hydrologic Flow Model (MODFLOW-OWHM) report in any associated publications and reports.

Please Note: Pre-compiled unix/linux binaries may not work on all unix systems. If you are having issues, try useing the makefile and compile OWHM.

Documentation of MF-OWHM

  • Report: One-Water Hydrologic Flow Model (MODFLOW-OWHM) is the official USGS report that describes the theory and input instructions at the time the distribution was first released. If you use of this software please cite the "MF_OWHM_tm6-a51.pdf" report in any associated publications and reports.

    The suggested citation is as follows:

    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)

  • Online MODFLOW-OWHM User's Guide:
    Packages and processes often evolve over time. The User's Guide includes the most up-to-date input instructions and related details.

Example Problem Description

Downloads that include the "examples" folder contain the example problems from the MODFLOW-2005, SWR, NWT, RIP-ET, SWI, FMP, and LGR releases as well as new example problems to illustrate MF-OWHM features.

The input files have been modified to work on either MS Windows or GNU Unix and only require invoking the appropriate executable/binary. For MS Windows a series of Batch scripts are provided to facilitate running the example problems. For GNU Unix a series of BASH scripts are provided for running the example problems. No user configuration is required, unless a different executable/binary is required. This is set for MS Windows and GNU Unix in the files 0_SelectProgramUsedByBATCH.bat and/or by setting the "OWHM", "HYDFMT", and "ZONBUD3" variables.

All the input files are located in folders that follow the name "test-run-XXX" where XXX indicates where the example set originated from (e.g. FMP). The only deviation from this is for the MODFLOW-2005 example problems are located in "test-run". After running the example problems the results are placed in the "test-out-XXX" folders. To compare the results that are obtained on your machine a set of "true" results are provided n the folders named "test-out-true-TXXX".


MODFLOW-OWHM Process and Packages Support

The Online Guide to MODFLOW-OWHM provides quick access to the key documentation for MODFLOW-OWHM processes and packages:

  • Report: The official USGS report describes the theory and input instructions at the time the package or process was first released.
  • Online Guide: Packages and processes often evolve over time. The Online User's Guide includes the most up-to-date input instructions and related details.


Published USGS Reports and Articles Describing an Application of MF-OWHM

Hanson, R.T., Flint, L.E., Faunt, C.C., Gibbs, D.R., and Schmid, W., 2014, Hydrologic models and analysis of water availability in Cuyama Valley, California: U.S Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2014-5150, 150 p.,

Hanson, Randall T., and Sweetkind, Donald, 2014, Cuyama Valley, California hydrologic study -- An assessment of water availability: U.S. Geological Survey Fact Sheet 2014-3075, 4 p.,

Schmid, Wolfgang, Hanson, R.T., Hughes, J., Leake, S.A., and Niswonger, R., 2014, Feedback of land subsidence on the movement and conjunctive use of water resources: Environmental Modelling and Software, vol. 62, pp. 253-270,


Superseded Versions

The following software is not actively supported by the USGS. Software listed below have been categorized as:

  • Superseded: software has been replaced by newer software

The software is provided online for historical reference only, and the pages may contain outdated information or broken links.



The following links are to USGS internal-only training resources