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 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.
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.