Government Goings-on: MODFLOW Funding Threat

—Alan Dulaney

One of the most important programs ever developed by the U.S. Geological Survey’s Water Resources Division is MODFLOW. Hydrologists everywhere use this software package to better understand the subsurface flow of groundwater. USGS has devoted over 40 years of support to maintaining and improving MODFLOW and its associated packages; version 6 is the most current release.

MODFLOW is widely trusted and used for major economic and regulatory decisions because it has come out of the public sector, it has been freely available and thus vetted and adopted by the private sector, and it continues to be tested and improved through continuous use. This is government work at its best.

Peter Mock, a long-time AHS member, recently sounded the alert that the future of MODFLOW is threatened by proposed budget cuts to USGS. President Trump’s “skinny budget” proposal eliminates the entire Groundwater Model Development Maintenance and Sustainability Program. There goes MODFLOW.

Fortunately the President’s “skinny budget” is still in the Congressional approval process. When contacted, Christian Langevin, the USGS senior hydrologist who teaches MODFLOW courses, had the following to say:

“The USGS had to make very difficult decisions when prioritizing budget reductions based upon the Presidents 2018 Budget for the USGS. It is true that there was a proposal to reduce the funding for MODFLOW development as a result in proposed funding reductions. There has been a great deal of support for USGS work and the recent House Mark has increased funding for the USGS programs. We hope there is similar support for USGS work from the Senate, that would reinstate funding for this program and many others in the USGS. Once again, thank you for your support. We really appreciate it.”

MODFLOW is such an important tool to groundwater hydrology that all water resources professionals should be aware of this threat to its funding. It’s not just any software program; we need it to do our work, and it deserves to be saved. Arizona’s Senators and Representatives are sensitive to water resources issues and unafraid to speak out to preserve a vital water resources tool. AHS does not lobby, but its members are free to contact the Congressional delegation. If you don’t yet know how to contact your Senators and Representatives, it would be a good thing to learn, soon. Very soon. You know what to do.

Call, write, fax, and/or email our senators to voice your concerns:


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