Water Reservoir.png

3D Water Treatment Process





Adobe Illustrator


Research, Sketching,

3D modeling



3D Design and Infographics Class Spring 2019

8 weeks


This piece was my midterm project for the "3D Design and infographics" course. This course was an introduction to the use of 3D technologies for communication, with a special focus on the coverage of scientific stories. The assignment was to design a data visualization to illustrate one of the processes  from the Miami-Dade Water & Sewer Department. I chose to illustrate the water treatment process and I stated the following question: How might we approach the water treatment process in a creative way that engages people and at the same time raises awareness of the amount of water consumed every day? 


After attending a presentation with experts from the Miami-Dade Water & Sewer Department, I decided to design a visualization for the water treatment process. The infographic includes a representation of the water taken from aquifers until it is stored in reservoirs to deliver clean water to the community. A 3D model of the Miami-Dade aquifer cross section and the water treatment process in 3D can be appreciated in my final piece. I also included some interesting facts that will give a deeper understanding of the water consumed in Miami-Dade County. 

Gathering information

I started by researching about the water treatment process in Miami in order to find the best way to approach to engage the audience. Some of the key insights from my research were: 

  • The vast majority of the public water systems in Florida use ground water as their source.

  • This ground water is produced by approximately 12 000 wells that take the water from five major aquifers o aquifer system.

  • Aquifers are composed of multiple layers of porous rock, such as limestone or sandstone, that hold water.

  • The major source of ground water supply in Florida is the Floridan Aquifer System.

  • In South Florida, aquifers vary in depth, composition and location. The three primary aquifer systems are the Surficial Aquifer System, the Intermediate Aquifer System and the Floridan Aquifer System.

Also, some of the ideas for infographics to approach this topic were:

  • Layers of soil showing where the water comes from. 

  • Map showing where aquifers are.

  • How a well works.

  • How deep a well can go.

  • Where wells are located.

  • Where water control plants are located.

  • How aquifer-collected water is used.

  • Amount of water used daily, monthly or annually.


Then, I presented in class some layouts of the elements that I wanted to illustrate and their organization for a printable infographic in A3 paper size. In the layout, we needed to state the main component of the visualization, which should be designed in 3D and then the secondary components that will complement the main piece. This was an iterative process, presenting in class and obtaining feedback from the Professor before starting designing all the elements.

Below are some of my sketches:

Designing the 2D components

I decided to design 2D component to show the 5 aquifer systems in Florida as well as the water consumption in Miami-Dade County.

Below is the process that I followed to design the 5 aquifer systems. It was designed as a 2D component in order to show how each layer goes on top of each other and to visualize their depth. I first found the images of the aquifers in the Florida, Department of Environmental Protection and then, I used the pencil tool in Illustrator to trace each aquifer layer and place them on the Florida map. 


Graphic designed by Maria Aguilar

Designing the 3D components

It was my first time designing in 3D, besides the lectures given by the Professor in class, I followed some tutorials from Lynda to learn 3D modeling using Autodesk Maya. I decided to illustrate the different soil layers on the aquifers to show the depth of the wells that extract the water, and then I modeled each element involved in the steps of the water treatment process until it gets to our home.

Below are some of the 3d assets that I designed. For the final illustration, I added some details using Illustrator to make my renders more realistic such as the texture of the aquifers' layers. 


And here is the final visualization!. Click the image below to see the full size.

3d Water Treatment Process

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