Good Question: What happens to the 1.5 million gallons of water Google says they need after using it to cool their servers?

Good Question

Time for Good Question!

Larry wanted to know, what happens to the 1.5 million gallons of water Google says they need after using it to cool their servers? That’s a great question Larry, and we didn’t get the answer by googling it.

The Google Data Center in Berkeley County uses a lot of water to keep it cool and it wants a lot more. It recently submitted a permit application seeking authorization to pull 1.5 million gallons a day from an aquifer saying the additional groundwater would provide a source of cooling water that would be necessary for Google to expand its facility.

Without the additional water, Google says it does not make economic sense to operate and expand in Berkeley County. Google says there is more than enough water to go around. They say based on data, 190 million gallons of water go from the aquifer they want to use into the ocean unused every day.

Not everyone agrees.

The Coastal Conservation League has requested the Department of Health and Environmental Control to hold off on the permits until more studies can be completed. Others say water is being used too fast to be replenished and the amount Google wants puts too much of a strain on our water supply.

Google uses this groundwater and notably an undisclosed amount of surface water from Berkeley County Water and Sanitation to cool its servers. During the cooling process, the water is recycled repeatedly until almost all of it has been evaporated. Because of all the water evaporates through Google’s ION exchange technology for cooling. There is no water left to discharge, it doesn’t go back into the surface water supply.

Google says this technology allows for nearly 100% usage efficiency with nearly zero wastewater production.

An update DHEC recently approved allowing Google to pump nearly 550 million gallons of drinking water per year to coll its servers. DHEC said that Google must comply with conditions in the permit, including a cap on the amount of water it can withdraw, or risk losing its DHEC license.

The permit expires in 2023.

Critics like Mount Pleasant Mayor Will Haynie argues corporate companies like Google are pulling much larger amounts of water from the same aquifer.

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