(Web Desk):– Google wants to build at least two more data centres in The Dalles, worrying some residents who fear there eventually won t be enough water for everyone.
Gadget360 reported that now a critical part of modern computing, data centres help people stream movies on Netflix, conduct transactions on PayPal, post updates on Facebook, store trillions of photos and more. But a single facility can also churn through millions of gallons of water per day to keep hot-running equipment cool.
Google wants to build at least two more data centres in The Dalles, worrying some residents who fear there eventually won t be enough water for everyone — including for area farms and fruit orchards, which are by far the biggest users.
Across the United States, there has been some mild pushback as tech companies build and expand data centres — conflicts likely to grow as water becomes a more precious resource amid the threat of climate change and as the demand for cloud computing grows. Some tech giants have been using cutting-edge research and development to find less impactful cooling methods, but there are those who say the companies can still do more to be environmentally sustainable.
The concerns are understandable in The Dalles, the seat of Wasco County, which is suffering extreme and exceptional drought, according to the US Drought Monitor. The region last summer endured its hottest days on record, reaching 118 degrees Fahrenheit (48 Celsius) in The Dalles.
The Dalles is adjacent to the the mighty Columbia River, but the new data centres wouldn t be able to use that water and instead would have to take water from rivers and groundwater that has gone through the city s water treatment plant.
However, the snowpack in the nearby Cascade Range that feeds the aquifers varies wildly year-to-year and glaciers are melting. Most aquifers in north-central Oregon are declining, according to the US Geological Survey Groundwater Resources Program.
Adding to the unease: The 15,000 town residents don t know how much water the proposed data centres will use, because Google calls it a trade secret. Even the town councillors, who are scheduled to vote on the proposal on November 8, had to wait until this week to find out.
Dave Anderson, public works director for The Dalles, said Google obtained the rights to 3.9 million gallons of water per day when it purchased land formerly home to an aluminium smelter. Google is requesting less water for the new data centres than that amount and would transfer those rights to the city, Anderson said.
“The city comes out ahead,” he said.
For its part, Google said it s “committed to the long-term health of the county s economy and natural resources.”
“We re excited that we re continuing conversations with local officials on an agreement that allows us to keep growing while also supporting the community,” Google said, adding that the expansion proposal includes a potential aquifer program to store water and increase supply during drier periods.
The US hosts 30 percent of the world s data centres, more than any other country. Some data centres are trying to become more efficient in water consumption, for example by recycling the same water several times through a centre before discharging it. Google even uses treated sewage water, instead of using drinking water as many data centres do, to cool its facility in Douglas County, Georgia.
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