Recently, Bloomberg reported that investors in massive data centers are making water availability a critical measurement in their decisions — especially in drought-ridden California.
Data centers, giant buildings packed with servers that power our virtual world, generate tremendous amounts of intolerable heat. Traditionally, the centers have large cooling systems that require millions of gallons of fresh water. That’s a big problem because water is increasingly in short supply.
For the last five years, California has had severe water shortages, forcing Gov. Jerry Brown to issue a series of emergency restrictions. Those curtailments have been a challenge for the high-tech industry because the preponderance of California’s data centers are located in Silicon Valley where the water supply flows out of the Sierra Nevada Mountains.
The curtailments have targeted agriculture, traditional industries and municipal water users, but Bloomberg said investors insist that data center owners and computer chip fabricators substantially step up their efforts to reduce their water intake and output.
California has more than 800 of the world’s largest data centers. Those centers are often located in dry inland areas just as they are in Washington and Oregon.