Data Centers and Water Use

Posted by Gaw Technology on 6/4/2015 to Data Center Topics


As the summer heats up, one pertinent issue that all of us should certainly be aware of is water usage. According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, a good portion of the United States is experiencing some level of a drought. For those in parts of California, some are experiencing a D4 drought, which is the highest intensity level measured. It's gotten so bad that the governor of California has declared a state of emergency for the state and directed state water officials to take any necessary steps to prevent a water shortage.

Now while individuals can do things to lessen their water use, can the same be said about data centers? Do data centers actually consume a large amount of water? A recent post in Data Center Journal actually addressed this question head-on. For the most part, it really depends on the type of cooling system and overall energy use. With that in mind, let's take a look at direct and indirect uses of water and see how data center operators are attempting to lower their water usage.


Cooling System                                                                            

 

Data centers that use a water-based cooling system will obviously use more water than a data center that doesn't. Data centers require a powerful cooling system in place to keep network equipment cool. In order to keep water consumption down, operators must focus on energy efficiency to ensure the least amount of water is being used. Configuration matters here too. Most data centers can benefit from a hot/cold aisle configuration to keep equipment cool. Gaw Technology has a number of server racks for an optimal cooling layout. Finally, some data center operators are partnering with their local utility company to use grey water instead of fresh water.

 

Indirect Water Usage through Overall Energy Consumption

 

Even if a data center doesn't have a water-based cooling system, it still indirectly consumes water through overall energy use. Electricity production requires water to power the steam turbines, so the more energy consumed, the more water is needed. Therefore, data center operators, like for cooling systems, must look at their overall energy consumption to see if there are ways to produce greater efficiency. This could mean purchasing new hardware or implementing new practices that reduce overall energy use.

Although we don't think about it, many data centers do require heavy amounts of water to properly run. By looking at ways to improve energy efficiency and cooling, data center operators may be able to help do their part to reduce water usage. 

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