Principles of Groundwater Flow & Transport Modeling Course

Principles of Groundwater Flow & Transport Modeling Course

Approved MCLE Credits – 22 hours

Course Description

The use of computer modeling tools will be an essential tool in the development of California Groundwater Sustainability Plans and has been a standard practice in many groundwater investigations. Groundwater resources evaluation, groundwater management, groundwater quality assessment, contamination site assessment and remediation, environmental impact review, and other groundwater related activities frequently rely on computer models as a means of understanding groundwater flow, groundwater-surface water interactions, groundwater budgets, and the fate of contaminants in the subsurface. This course introduces the conceptual principles and practical aspects of groundwater modeling in an intuitive yet comprehensive manner. The course objective is to demystify the use of groundwater models by providing solid understanding of the principles, methods, assumptions, and limitations of groundwater models, as well as hands on experience with the planning, preparation, execution, presentation, and review of a modeling project. The course reviews the concepts of groundwater flow and transport, and of finite difference and finite element methods. It then provides an overview of various software programs for groundwater flow and transport modeling and accompanying pre- and post-processing programs. The course includes hands-on exercises based on the USGS MODFLOW flow model and MODPATH and MT3D transport models. The course is taught by experienced instructors familiar with many aspects of groundwater modeling and California hydrogeology. At the end of the course, participants should be able to understand and actively engage in planning, supervision, and/or review of groundwater modeling projects, whether in the context of basin planning, groundwater sustainability/SGMA, or for site investigations.

Who Should Attend

The short-course is intended for professional consultants, technical personnel in engineering/geology firms, groundwater sustainability agencies, and irrigation/water districts, regulatory agency specialists and managers, and those in the legal community specialized on groundwater issues. Participants should have a working knowledge of the principles of groundwater hydrology and be familiar with the PC Windows environment. No formal training in computer programming is necessary.

Course Topics

• principles and concepts of groundwater modeling
• overview of groundwater modeling software
• conceptual model development
• data collection and preparation
• model grid design
• boundary conditions: concepts and application
• implementing rivers, lakes, recharge, drainage, and other special situations
• modeling multiple aquifer systems
• sensitivity analysis, model calibration and verification
• contaminant transport modeling
• capture zone analysis
• nonpoint source pollution modeling

Course Instructors

Graham E. Fogg, Ph.D., is a Professor of Hydrogeology in the Department of Land, Air, and Water Resources and Hydrologic Sciences Graduate Group, University of California, Davis. He received a B.S. in Hydrology at the University of New Hampshire, a M.S. in Hydrology from the University of Arizona, and a Ph.D. in Geology from The University of Texas at Austin. He teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in groundwater hydrology, water resources, and groundwater modeling. Dr. Fogg also heads an NSF training grant on Climate Change, Water, and Society, and is the UC Davis Director of the UC Water Security and Sustainability Research Initiative. His research interests include geologic-geostatistical characterization of subsurface heterogeneity, mass transport in heterogeneous porous media, numerical modeling of groundwater systems, and regional system hydrology. Fogg has 40 years experience characterizing and analyzing groundwater under a diversity of conditions throughout the world.

Thomas Harter, Ph.D., is a professor and chair of the Hydrologic Sciences Graduate Group at the University of California, Davis. He received a B.S. in hydrology from the Universities of Freiburg, Germany and a M.S. in hydrology from the University of Stuttgart, Germany. He received his Ph.D. in hydrology (with emphasis on subsurface hydrology) at the University of Arizona. His research group focuses on nonpoint-source pollution of groundwater, sustainable groundwater management, groundwater and vadose zone modeling, groundwater resources evaluation under uncertainty, groundwater-surface water interaction, and on contaminant transport. The group evaluates the impacts of agriculture and human activity on groundwater flow and contaminant transport in complex aquifer and soil systems, and supports development of tools needed in agriculture and by decision- and policy makers to effectively address groundwater management and water quality issues in agricultural regions.

Peter Schwartzman, M.S., received a B.A. in geology and environmental studies from University of Pennsylvania and a M.S. in hydrology from the University of Arizona.  He currently provides hydrogeologic consulting as an associate at Pacific Groundwater Group in Seattle, Washington.  Schwartzman has had extensive experience in hydrogeologic characterization and groundwater flow modeling.  He has contributed to development of groundwater modeling software and is experienced with a variety of models and modeling interfaces.  He is interested in modeling regional flow systems, stream-aquifer interactions, and contaminant transport simulation. Contact email:

Course Benefits

At the end of the course, participants should have:

• a well-founded knowledge of the principles in groundwater flow and transport modeling.
• familiarity with the major elements of groundwater modeling studies.
• hands-on experience in designing simple groundwater flow and transport studies with MODFLOW, MODPATH, and MT3D
• using popular groundwater modeling software.
• a fundamental understanding of the capabilities and limitations of groundwater modeling.
• an understanding of the appropriate role of groundwater models in groundwater assessment and management.

Past Participant Testimonials

"Instructors explained complex concepts in a clear way."
"Conceptual theories implemented in models were well explained."
"It was very helpful to have instructor available for one-on-one assistance."
"The interactive learning was very valuable. Without being able to work on the computer and use the models myself, I would not have retained information from this course."


Limited seating is available, therefore, pre payment is required upon registration.

Registrations may be transferred upon written request but no refunds will be issued.


For more information, contact Sarah Kline at GRA or 916-446-3626.

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Mon, Sep. 11 - Wed, Sep. 13, 2017
8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.

Event has ended


Seaport Conference Center
459 Seaport Ct.
Redwood City, CA 94063