Germann's (2010) comment helpfully presents supporting evidence that I have missed, notes items that need clarification or correction, and stimulates discussion of what is needed for improved theory of unsaturated flow. Several points from this comment relate not only to specific features of the content of my paper (Nimmo, 2010), but also to the broader question of what methodology is appropriate for developing an applied earth science. Accordingly, before addressing specific points that Germann identified, I present here some considerations of purpose and background relevant to evaluation of the unsaturated flow model of Nimmo (2010).

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