Community concern prompts meeting over Google 500+ million gallon yearly aquifer withdrawal

Local News

Charleston, S.C. – WCBD – Google has been approved by the South Carolina Health and Environmental Control to withdrawal 549 million gallons of water annually from the Charleston Aquifer as of October 9th.  

The permit was passed saying Google’s campus located in Moncks Corner does not have substantial access to surface water.  

Due to Google’s expansion, they say they need additional water to cool their servers which is when they asked for the additional 366 million gallons.  

Google receives most of its water from Berkeley County and previously had access to 189 million gallons of water yearly from the aquifer.  

An aquifer is an underground rock and water where groundwater can be extracted from.  

Image provided by the College of Charleston Department of Geology.

College of Charleston geology professor, Adem Ali states the Charleston Aquifer gets its water from the inland of South Carolina and takes many, many years to accumulate.  

“It’s fossil water,” said Ali.  

The Charleston Aquifer’s ability to transmit water is measured at 13,500 gallons per day per foot. That number is then multiplied by the land the aquifer covers which is all the coastal plains.  

Image provided by the College of Charleston Department of Geology.

“The Charleston Aquifer system is what we consider to be a moderate yielding aquifer system. It has the potential to supply that much if not more, but the biggest question is what does that mean in terms of overtime,” said Ali.  

The Charleston Aquifer is also being used by the Town of Mount Pleasant, Isle of Palms, Sullivan’s Island, and Kiawah Island for home and drinking water.  

Comments submitted to DHEC made public argue drinking water should have priority over things like Google.

The Coastal Conservation League say Google is threatening the groundwater resource and they’d like for the company to find an alternative source of water to cool their servers.

“What we’d like to see ultimately is Google agree to decrease its dependency on groundwater here,” Emily Cedzo, Land, Water, and Wildlife Program Director for the Coastal Conservation League said. “We’d like to see them commit to be conservationists of our water resources.”

News 2’s Taylor Murray reached out to Google about the permit concerns.

The company responded saying, “We strive to be good neighbors and to have a positive impact in the communities we call home. In the ten years since we’ve operated our data center in Berkeley County, we’ve worked diligently to ensure that we comply with DHEC’s requirements. As required by the permit, we plan to put necessary safeguards in place to reduce regular demand on water, reserve groundwater for peak demand times or as a backup supply, and develop alternative resources.”

-Peter Schottenfels, Communications Manager for Google

With residents concerned over the impact the amount Google will be using, D-HEC has announced there will be a committee meeting this Friday at 4pm in Columbia to discuss the issue.

Click here to review the D-HEC agenda.

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