Modelling is one of the most powerful tools that we have at our disposal. It is also one of our industry’s most misused tools.

Modelling is often done as a substitute for thinking, or for gathering data. Governments sometimes spend large amounts of money on expensive modelling just to show the public that they care. Consultants often build models instead of coming up with answers, or showing with simple calculations that answers are not possible.

“Model first; think later.”

In this series of seminars, we will talk about how to get the most out of groundwater modelling. However this question only makes sense if it is applied to real-world problems. We want you to supply the problems. (We assume that you already know something about modelling.)

So tell us about a problem that you, or your colleagues, are facing. Tell us what data you’ve got. Think aloud about possible solutions to the problem. Then, based on what you tell us, we will talk about your problem and see where the conversation ends up. We’ll ask ourselves questions such as these:

  • Can modelling help? If so, how can it help?
  • What risks are incurred by this management option or that management option? What can go wrong?
  • Can model-based processing of available data lower these risks?
  • How complex should a model be to do this?

Don’t be afraid to bring us your problem. This will give the rest of us an opportunity to learn. By telling us about your problem in clear terms, you will learn too. It is amazing how often solutions to complex problems suggest themselves when we collect our thoughts enough to describe them to others.

John and Francesca will do their best to come up with some good ideas. Others may come up with better ideas. Perhaps none of us will find a clever way of using modelling to address your problem. But we will all get some much-needed practice in thinking about how best to use this powerful tool to solve a real-world problem. This is important.

Like any other tool, modelling can only help us if we use it the right way.

Francesca Lotti & John Doherty