Google Partners with Douglas County on Reuse
Google recently partnered with Douglas County, GA to reduce its local data center’s environmental impact. Data centers must maintain cool temperatures to keep their equipment from overheating. When Google’s data center opened in 2007, it was using drinking water from the Douglasville-Douglas County Water and Sewer Authority (DDCWSA) for cooling, later Google realized how much potable water it was wasting in the process. Thus began Google’s cooperation with the WSA to upgrade their systems to make use of reclaimed water for the cooling of their systems.
In consultation with DDCWSA, Google instituted a plan to use recycled/reclaimed water for their facilities, thereby, reducing their water footprint. DDCWSA diverts up to 30% of the water that would be processed by their water treatment facility to a side-stream plant that Google helped build. This side-stream plant processes the water, and then sends the water to Google’s data center for the cooling process. Any recycled water that remains after the cooling process is then sent to an on-site effluent treatment plant, treated, disinfected, and any mineral solids are removed. After treatment, Google sends the treated water back to the Chattahoochee River.
DDCWSA has praised Google for their forward thinking, and says that their leadership has caused other companies in the area to re-think their water use. This is the type of public/private partnerships the Alliance advocates, as both actors have benefitted from the cooperation. DDCWSA has less water to process, and thanks to Google’s recycled water consumption, there is more water available when droughts strike. On Google’s side, their reduced water consumption each month has reduced their costs, and resulted in positive feedback from the environmental community.