As the American West faces intensifying water challenges, water managers, landowners, and water users are increasingly turning to the Groundwater Accounting Platform (Platform) as a data-driven tool that enables them to track water availability and usage with user-friendly dashboards and workflows.

Developed through collaboration between Environmental Science Associates (ESA), the Environmental Defense Fund, the California Water Data Consortium, and engineering and design firm Olsson, the Platform was built to support sustainable groundwater management practices, and facilitate balancing water supply and demand throughout California.

Addressing California’s Groundwater Scarcity

Unsustainable groundwater pumping across much of the West has endangered long-term water supplies and led to undesirable outcomes such as infrastructure damage from land sinkage and local communities’ loss of access to drinking water from their domestic wells. The Groundwater Accounting Platform empowers users to manage water supplies long-term, and helps communities avoid these undesirable outcomes and meet community-established water conservation goals. Within California, the Platform’s functionality supports groundwater sustainability agencies as they manage resources in priority basins under the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act.

“It is more important than ever that water managers and agricultural water users have access to the best possible data to guide their decisions and balance supply and demand for groundwater,” says Dr. Noa Bruhis, senior analyst at the Environmental Defense Fund. “The open-source Groundwater Accounting Platform was developed to provide users with an easy-to-use, cost-effective option that helps secure their communities’ water future.”

The Groundwater Accounting Platform is a data-driven tool that enables water managers, landowners, and water users to track water availability and usage with user-friendly dashboards and workflows.

A Data-Driven Tool

The Platform can integrate data from various sources, including satellite imagery, flow meters, and sensor networks. This consolidation of water supply and usage information allows for precise tracking of water budgets at the parcel level. Additionally, the Platform provides a comprehensive water manager dashboard to account for water distribution across districts and regions, informing crucial management decisions such as billing and allocation planning.

A notable feature of the Platform is its utilization of open-source technology, says ESA Technology Services Lead John Burns, PE, who led the tool’s technical development.

“The technology is available to anybody who wants to work with the source code, empowering water agencies everywhere to harness the Platform’s robust technology to create their own unique, cost-effective solutions.”

John Henry Burns, PE, Technology Services Lead

“By increasing the user base, we foster collaboration and innovation and ensure that Platform functionality meets a range of needs for water management professionals and the diverse communities that they serve,” says John.

The Platform also integrates with the Groundwater Evaluation Toolbox (GET), a cloud-based software system developed by Olsson in partnership with ESA.

GET allows users to integrate water accounting functionality with groundwater models to evaluate the effects of pumping rates and mitigation scenarios on groundwater levels.

For the past several years, the Groundwater Accounting Platform has been in development with pilot partners Rosedale–Rio Bravo Water Storage District, Yolo County Flood Control & Irrigation District, Merced Irrigation–Urban GSA, Pajaro Valley Water Management Agency, and Merced County Subbasin. The Platform is now available for adoption and use by groundwater sustainability agencies throughout California. The East Turlock Subbasin Groundwater Sustainability Agency is helping to lead the way and has recently selected the Platform as its accounting tool and begun rollout to its landowners and growers.

To access the Platform, visit For more information contact John Burns.