Groundwater is an important resource that meets part or all of the water demand in many developed basins. Since it is an integral part of the hydrologic cycle, management of groundwater resources must consider not only the management of surface flows but also the variability in climate. In addition, agricultural and urban activities both affect the availability of water resources and are affected by it. Arguably, the Central Valley of the State of California, USA, can be considered a basin where all stresses that can possibly affect the management of groundwater resources seem to have come together: a vibrant economy that depends on water, a relatively dry climate, a disparity between water demand and availability both in time and space, heavily managed stream flows that are susceptible to water quality issues and sea level rise, degradation of aquifer conditions due to over-pumping, and degradation of the environment with multiple species becoming endangered. Over the past fifteen years, the California Department of Water Resources has developed and maintained the Integrated Water Flow Model (IWFM) to aid in groundwater management and planning under complex, and often competing, requirements. This paper will describe features of IWFM as a generic modeling tool, and showcase several of its innovative applications within California.
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