5 open source groundwater software besides MODFLOW


Temporal evolution of supercritical |CO2| displacing water in a meter cube DFN containing 24 fractures. (from https://dfnworks.lanl.gov/applications.html)

Because there is a universe of groundwater flow code where Modflow isn’t the sun or the black hole, however Modflow is a main planet like Jupyter. The rest of planets / codes are a sort of unknown, undocumented, unteached or even untutorialized open source software that exists, have developers and its used for specific topics.

A special concern arises from the gap between the stage of development of open source groundwater software and the actual capabilities of the common groundwater modelers (we mean, the main group of modelers). Even though we are passionate about software we don’t find the time or the right momentum to have a real experience with those codes. 

From our research, we have listed the top open source groundwater software with a brief summary of the capabilities and useful links. We have to mention that there are some packages that can simulate groundwater flow in software like OpenFoam; however, those variants are not listed here.

Modflow OWHM

The MODFLOW One-Water Hydrologic Flow Model is a MODFLOW-2005 based integrated hydrologic model designed for the analysis of conjunctive-use management. The term “integrated” refers to the tight coupling of groundwater flow, surface-water flow, landscape processes, aquifer compaction and subsidence, reservoir operations, and conduit (karst) flow. 

It is actually developed by the USGS however its funding come from another part and thus can’t be considered into the official Modflow group and it isn’t implemented in Flopy. It doesn’t have any graphical user interface.



Source code:


IWFM: Integrated Water Flow Model

Our Integrated Water Flow Model (IWFM) is a computer program used for water resources management and planning within a basin. It calculates groundwater flows, soil moisture movement in the topsoil, stream flows, land surface flows and flow exchange between the groundwater, streams and land surface as generated by rainfall, agricultural irrigation, and municipal and industrial water use.

Latest version 2015.0.1177 (released May 18, 2021) 




The Weather Research and Forecasting Model Hydrological modeling system (WRF-Hydro) was developed as a community-based, open source, model coupling framework designed to link multi-scale process models of the atmosphere and terrestrial hydrology to provide:

  • An extensible multi-scale & multi-physics land-atmosphere modeling capability for conservative, coupled and uncoupled assimilation & prediction of major water cycle components such as: precipitation, soil moisture, snow pack, ground water, streamflow, and inundation

  • Accurate and reliable streamflow prediction across scales (from 0-order headwater catchments to continental river basins and from minutes to seasons)

  • A research modeling testbed for evaluating and improving physical process and coupling representations




ParFlow is a numerical model that simulates the hydrologic cycle from the bedrock to the top of the plant canopy. It integrates three-dimensional groundwater flow with overland flow and plant processes using physically-based equations to rigorously simulate fluxes of water and energy in complex real-world systems. ParFlow is a computationally advanced model that can run on laptops and supercomputers and has been used in hundreds of studies evaluating hydrologic processes from the hillslope to the continental scale




 dfnWorks is a parallelized computational suite to generate three-dimensional discrete fracture networks (DFN) and simulate flow and transport. Developed at Los Alamos National Laboratory, it has been used to study flow and transport in fractured media at scales ranging from millimeters to kilometers.



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