Visualising a stochastic model of California water resources using Sankey diagrams

E. Curmi , R. Fenner, K. Richards, J. M. Allwood, B. Bajželj, G. M. Kopec

This paper describes a novel approach to the analysis of supply and demand of water in California. A stochastic model is developed to assess the future supply of and demand for water resources in California. The results are presented in the form of a Sankey diagram where present and stochastically-varying future fluxes of water in California and its sub-regions are traced from source to services by mapping the various transformations of water from when it is first made available for use, through its treatment, recycling and reuse, to its eventual loss in a variety of sinks. This helps to highlight the connections of water with energy and land resources, including the amount of energy used to pump and treat water, the amount of water used for energy production, and the land resources that create a water demand to produce crops for food. By mapping water in this way, policy-makers can more easily understand the competing uses of water, through the identification of the services it delivers (e.g. sanitation, food production, landscaping), the potential opportunities for improving the management of the resource and the connections with other resources which are often overlooked in a traditional sector-based management strategy. This paper focuses on a Sankey diagram for water, but the ultimate aim is the visualisation of linked resource futures through inter-connected Sankey diagrams for energy, land and water, tracking changes from the basic resources for all three, their transformations, and the final services they provide.