To keep stakeholders updated about the Water Bank’s progress and to address questions between Stakeholder Forums, the Program Team is launching a new “Water Bank Questions of the Week” e-mail.
You can find questions from previous weeks here.
Theme: Groundwater modeling and data analysis
Question: What is water modeling and why is it important?
Water modeling is a scientific method that uses computer models to create mathematical representations of how water behaves in the real world. Water models provide an understanding of the intricate and complex relationships between various factors, such as groundwater levels, river flow, and other elements related to water.
Water modeling helps water managers make informed decisions to effectively manage our water resources, support environmental sustainability and preserve water quality. For example, models analyze the behavior of groundwater and surface water, supporting sustainable water management practices. Models also assist in planning for droughts and climate change, identifying vulnerabilities and adaptation strategies. Modeling also helps to assess environmental outcomes, such as the projected effects of various water banking actions on river flows and ecosystems.
When set up correctly with a clear conceptual understanding of the modeled environment and with sufficient quality data and proper calibration, results from water models can provide close approximations of actual conditions. However, water model results can never completely accurately replicate actual conditions and require qualified and skilled scientists, engineers, or other experts using professional judgment to run and interpret water model results.
By developing these models, we can make predictions about future conditions in complex water systems and environments, which helps us make informed decisions about how the Water Bank may be operated to provide targeted benefits while avoiding negative impacts.
Water modeling has played a crucial role in the success of the region’s conjunctive use program over the past two decades. It is also essential for planning water banking actions, especially in the face of challenges posed by climate change, drought, and diverse water use scenarios.
Question: What modeling techniques and data analysis methods are being utilized by the Water Bank Project team to assess different scenarios for operating the Water Bank?
In the Sacramento region, water managers rely primarily on two modeling frameworks: the CalSim (California Simulation of Water Supply and Management) and CoSANA (Cosumnes-South American-North American) models.
CalSim was developed by the California Department of Water Resources (DWR) and focuses on statewide surface water resources. The model incorporates hydrological data, water infrastructure data, historical water use patterns, and other relevant factors to simulate the behavior of the interconnected water system. It allows for the evaluation of potential effects of drought, climate change, population growth, and other factors on water resources.
CoSANA was developed by local Groundwater Sustainability Agencies (GSAs) specifically to analyze the unique conditions of groundwater basins in the Sacramento region (the Consumnes, South American and North American subbasins). The model combines data on geology, water usage, and surface water interactions to simulate how groundwater behaves in those areas. CoSANA helps evaluate different strategies and factors such as agricultural and urban water demands, water supplies, water quality, pumping rates, land use, and climate change, providing valuable insights for informed groundwater management decisions.
A vital investment
The investments made in developing CoSANA demonstrate the region’s commitment to accurately assessing and forecasting the potential effects of conjunctive use and water banking operations. By collecting high-quality data and enhancing modeling tools over the past 25 years, water providers are able to have a comprehensive understanding of the current and future surface and groundwater conditions.