This Sankey diagram for the water system of Segura river in Spain shows “the interchanged fluxes between the hydrological and the economical system”.

This is an output from the EU-funded ASSET (Accounting System for the SEgura river and Transfers) research project and can be found on the FutureWater website. Authored by Sergio Contreras and Johannes Hunink of Future Water (Contreras, S., J.E. Hunink. 2015. Water accounting at the basin scale: water use and supply (2000-2010) in the Segura River Basin using the SEEA framework. FutureWater Report 138).

Flows are for 2010 and measured in cubic hectometres (hm³, 1 hm³ = 1000000 m3 = 1 GL). The left part with the light blue backdrop is the actual hydric sector, while the right side with the light orange backdrop encompasses the technical/economic sector.

Water is extracted from surface waters (agua de superficie), ground water (acuiferos), and – interesting pespective – from soil water (água edáfica). Water from soil (green arrow, 901 hm³) is directly taken up by plants, so consumption is in the agricultural sector only. Agriculture is the largest consuming sector, followed by industry and energy generation, and water provision to households.

Much of the releases of water from industry and energy generation is returned to the water system (1734 hm³).

Additional tidbits of information below the Sankey diagram almost turn this into an infographic.

A nice idea for the use of Sankey diagrams can be found on this web page of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) in the Portland OR area.

The diagram shows the flow of the Rogue river and its tributary streams. The fact that the river flows east to west makes this one of the rare examples of a right-to-left orientated Sankey diagrams.

The water volume is represented by the width of the arrow in each segment. Flows are in cubic feet per second (cfs)? At some points along the river the volume seems to increase much more than the feed contributes (e.g. at Bear Creek influx).

As an additional layer of information the color of the Sankey arrows indicates the trailing 7-day average temperature. Temperature color codes shown below.

From the thesis of architect and designer Gabriel Guerriero comes this beautiful Sankey diagram. Labels show quantitites but I have no information on the unit of measurement.

Gabriel writes:

“[This Sankey diagram] illustrates the measures of capacity and exchange of water in the Sacramento/American river confluence. Sankey diagrams are an essential constructive framework to analyze the breaching processes and estimate the manipulated water flows. The work is supported with calculations derived from California Department of Water Resources measurements as a means to describe where flows become broken, crosswired, appropriated, or out of tolerance. While the Sankey should hold a useful matrix to describe a section of a closed system, the Sacramento/American River measurements describe a broken system of flows in which the input of 100% on the top end results in disrupted quantities of output.”

A similar diagram for the Colorado river catchement can be seen here.

A recent report prepared by Kumar, Subramanyam and Kabir of the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Alberta in Edmonton describes “Development of Energy, Emission and Water Flow Sankey Diagrams for the Province of Alberta Through Modeling”. Canada has been underrepresented with Sankey diargams on this blog, I feel. But the numerous Sankey diagrams on water and energy really compensates for this lag: I counted 12 more or less beautiful Sankey diagrams. Here is an example:

This is for the energy consumption in Alberta. Flows are in PJ (not sure which year they refer to). There are also several Sankey diagrams in this report for the water catchment areas of rivers (pp. 27-34).

Download the full report here (caution 6.5 MB PDF)

From Fei-Ling Tseng’s design blog comes this Sankey diagram. Her post is on some visualizations and infographics done for a project on water economies/ecologies of the Colorado River water system.

The diagram shows the distribution of water from the Colorado river to different lower basin states (Nevada, Arizona, California), “export” to Mexico and a breakdown to irrigation areas within California. The quantities are in acre feet (a.f.). Underlying data is from the Colorado River Accounting and Water Use Report 2009.

Simple, beautiful, conveying the message … and a single white water-drop as catchy design element.