Virginia Data Centers Draining State’s Water Supply

Being the world’s largest data center hub is having a severe impact on local water resources.

1 minute read

May 9, 2024, 7:00 AM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction


Google office building in Virginia.

Google building in Reston, Virginia. | K I Photography / Adobe Stock

Data centers in Northern Virginia are using “absurd amounts of water” to power cooling systems, writes Sachi Kitajima Mulkey in Grist, causing concern among local officials.

The region is the world’s largest data center hub, with over 300 facilities processing almost 70 percent of global digital information, each using as much as 5 million gallons of water per day. And because cooling methods often rely on evaporation, the water does not go back into wastewater systems. “Data centers rank among the top 10 water-consuming industries in the United States, according to a 2021 study from Virginia Tech that looked at their environmental cost. And the next generation of technology will only make these facilities thirstier, as servers that run AI algorithms generate more heat.”

A bill introduced in the Virginia state legislature that would hold companies accountable for their environmental impact failed to pass this year, postponing its Senate vote to 2025.

Wednesday, May 8, 2024 in Grist

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