Estimated read time: 4-5 minutes
Mother Nature continues to turn up the heat and hold back the rain, resulting in a never-ending drought in the Beehive State. So naturally, cities should be carefully allocating water for essential things like farming, livestock, homes, and… data?
The typical data center uses 3 to 5 million gallons of water per day to cool its servers. That is roughly the same amount of water needed to provide for a city of 30,000 people, according to an NBC news article quoting Venkatesh Uddameri—director of the Water Resources Center at Texas Tech University. With foreboding drought conditions across much of the American West, many are taking a closer look at water-guzzling data centers and discovering alternative options.
While life here in Utah may be elevated, its reservoir water levels are not.
Utah is experiencing extreme drought conditions, a Deseret News article says. Heat and inadequate rain year after year have contributed to an increasingly dire situation. This affects Utahns in a myriad of ways, from being able to enjoy summer fun at local reservoirs, to upkeep on lawns and gardens.
The U.S. Drought Monitor for the state of Utah currently lists 83% of the state in "extreme drought"—the second-worst category—and nearly 6% of the state is classified as being in "exceptional drought," the worst category out of the five possible levels.
If the drought continues, Utah residents can expect more wildfires, record-low water levels in streams and reservoirs, and reduced crop yields, which can increase grocery prices. Citizens and lawmakers alike are scrambling for solutions to these looming issues. In the search for solutions in other states, the water usage of data centers have come under scrutiny.
Data centers and water usage
Data centers are large warehouses filled with servers that, depending on the company using them, enable streaming services, hold data (think iCloud) and support data storage and IT operations for businesses.
The United States has more data centers than any other country. Many of them are built in the West because of the availability of carbon-free power sources like wind and solar, which results in cheaper electricity costs. This is crucial for data centers since they require huge amounts of power to run, accounting for nearly 2% of the country's total electricity use, an Environmental Research Letter says.
However, while wind and solar power opportunities may be plentiful in the West, water supplies are dwindling. Almost half of U.S. data centers are fully or at least partially powered by watersheds in water-stressed regions, the 2021 Letter claims. But all data centers need some form of cooling system, and most opt for evaporative cooling that uses more water but less electricity.
Industry expert Kyle Meyers tells Data Center Knowledge that data centers should adopt alternatives to water-based cooling systems.
"Moving forward, data centers should create water-free cooling and work with suppliers to optimize for air-cooled chilling. When designing data centers for a sustainable future, the goal should be near-zero water consumption," Meyers said.
The good news is that Utah businesses don't have to wait and work for years to leave a smaller footprint on Utah's water supply.
An inNovvative solution
Novva Data Centers provides wholesale and multi-tenant colocation infrastructure for clients ranging from local to international. A colocation center is a data center that provides services to many smaller businesses, rather than a large data center built solely for one company. Novva facilities were engineered with efficiency and sustainability in mind, utilizing ambient air and operating with a unique waterless cooling system.
Novva's 100-acre campus in West Jordan contains servers with a mechanical system of air-cooled chilling and no evaporative water system used at all. On-site solar power adds to the sustainability factor of the 1.5 million square feet of data center space.
As the world's demand for data increases—each generation searching, streaming, and downloading more than the last—colocation centers like Novva that make waterless cooling and environmental design a top priority are going to be a necessity. To learn more about Novva and what they can do for your tech company's needs, visit their website.