Google’s data center water usage is revealed – and it’s a lot

Google used over four billion gallons of water in its data centers around the world in 2021, with 3.3 billion of those being in the US and 971 million the rest of the world, new figures have revealed.

The figures came to light after media outlet The Oregonian challenged the city of The Dalles, Oregon to reveal how much water a Google data center in the region consumed.

The legal dispute rattled on for 13 months, as the city of The Dalles sought to prevent the release of Google’s consumption data. However, the city eventually relented, and revealed that the tech giant used 274.5 million gallons of water in 2021 alone.

Opening the floodgates

 The city also promised to make such data available going forward.

The Oregonian also reported that the facilities had almost tripled their water usage within five years, claiming that they now use over a quarter of all the city’s water. What’s more, this only looks set to increase further, as Google has plans to build two more data centers in The Dalles.

Google claims that this water consumption is similar to that of 29 golf courses in the US. It also maintained that these numbers do not include the seawater that it uses. 

The problem of data center water usage is widespread, and colocation providers are working on improvements as regulations governing such consumption are set to take hold in various regions.

A report from the IT advisory firm Uptime Institute found that currently, only half of data center operators report their water usage. It also recommended simple fixes to meet future sustainability criteria, such as covering empty server racks to improve airflow, and upgrading legacy cooling systems that are still in use.  

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