Google, Facebook, Microsoft Partially To Blame For Water Deficits

Arizona is running out of water, and tech companies like Google, Facebook, and Microsoft are partially to blame. Water is used to cool servers for things like search, publishing, and advertising, as well as cloud storage for all types of media.

Google made a deal to build a massive data center in Mesa, Arizona, east of Phoenix, which has not been finished, yet, and the city guaranteed the company 1 million gallons of water daily to cool it. Up to 4 million gallons a day if it hit project milestones.

Business Insider reported that Arizona residents each use about 146 gallons a day. The publisher, a few weeks ago, reported that the governor unveiled a plan to limit construction in areas around Phoenix after finding that the groundwater cannot support the current pace of building.

Based on this use, Google has begun to disclose the amount of water it uses. In 2021, all the company's data centers consumed 4.34 billion gallons of water. Google tried to put it in perspective by comparing the amount it uses to golf courses. Google noted that 4.34 billion gallons are equivalent to the annual water footprint of 29 golf courses in the southwest U.S.

The Phoenix metro area has been dubbed by locals as the data center destination. Microsoft opened a data center in Arizona two years ago, and Meta is expanding its facility in Mesa.   

Google, Facebook and Microsoft are looking for more sustainable ways to cool their respective data centers. Microsoft said in 2021 its Arizona data centers would use zero water for cooling. Instead, it would use adiabatic cooling, which uses outside air instead of water. The Phoenix metro area has 5 million residents and growing, buy concerns exist about not having enough water. 


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