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Mother Nature continues to turn up the heat and hold back the rain, resulting in endless drought in Beehive State. So naturally, cities should carefully allocate water for essential things like agriculture, livestock, homes and…data?
The typical data center uses 3 to 5 million gallons of water per day to cool its servers. That’s about the same amount of water needed to sustain a city of 30,000 people, according to an NBC article quoting Venkatesh Uddameri, director of the Water Resources Center at Texas Tech University. With worrisome drought conditions across much of the American West, many are taking a closer look at water-hungry data centers and discovering alternative options.
While life here in Utah may be high, its reservoir water levels are not.
Utah is experiencing extreme drought conditions, according to a Deseret News article. The heat and the lack of rainfall year after year have contributed to an increasingly dire situation. This affects Utahans in myriad ways, from being able to enjoy summer fun at local reservoirs to maintaining lawns and gardens.
The US Drought Monitor for the state of Utah currently lists 83% of the state as ‘extreme drought’ – the second worst category – and nearly 6% of the state is classified as ‘exceptional drought’ , the worst category out of the five possible levels.
If the drought continues, Utahans can expect more wildfires, record water levels in streams and reservoirs, and reduced crop yields, which may increase food prices. Citizens and lawmakers are scrambling to find solutions to these looming problems. In seeking solutions in other states, data center water consumption has come under intense scrutiny.
Data centers and water consumption
Data centers are large warehouses filled with servers that, depending on the company using them, enable streaming services, store data (think iCloud), and support data storage and business computing operations.
The United States has more data centers than any other country. Many of them are built in the West due to the availability of carbon-free energy sources like wind and solar, which translates into cheaper electricity costs. This is crucial for data centers as they require huge amounts of energy to operate, accounting for almost 2% of the country’s total electricity consumption, according to an environmental research letter.
However, while wind and solar power opportunities may be plentiful in the West, water supplies are dwindling. Nearly half of U.S. data centers are fully or at least partially powered by watersheds in water-stressed regions, according to the 2021 letter. But all data centers need some form of system cooling, and most opt for evaporative cooling which uses more water but less electricity.
Industry expert Kyle Meyers told Data Center Knowledge that data centers should embrace alternatives to water-based cooling systems.
“Going forward, data centers should create waterless cooling and work with vendors to optimize air cooling. When designing data centers for a sustainable future, the goal should be near zero water consumption,” Meyers said.
The good news is that Utah companies don’t have to wait and work for years to leave a smaller footprint on Utah’s water supply.
An innovative solution
Novva Data Centers provides wholesale, multi-tenant colocation infrastructure for customers ranging from local to international. A colocation center is a data center that provides services to many small businesses, rather than a large data center built just for one business. Novva’s facilities have been designed with efficiency and sustainability in mind, using ambient air and operating with a unique waterless cooling system.
Novva’s 100-acre campus in western Jordan contains servers with a mechanical air-cooling system and no evaporative water system is used. On-site solar power adds to the sustainability factor of the 1.5 million square feet of data center space.
As global demand for data grows – each generation searches, streams and downloads more than the last – colocation hubs like Novva that make waterless cooling and environmental design a top priority will become a necessity. To learn more about Novva and what it can do for your technology business needs, visit its website.