Google shares its recycled water use in a green data center, 7 reasons why it is smart

It is sad that most think of a Green Data Center almost exclusively in terms of energy use.  Google's Joe Kava has been talking about water publicly since 2009.

Google's Joe Kava discussed water use in data centers in its 2009 data center summit.  Joe's presentation on water start at the 9:20 mark.

A green data center has smart water use in addition to efficient power and cooling systems.

Google has a new post on its new recycled/grey water facility in Georgia.




Helping the Hooch with water conservation at our Douglas County data center

March 15, 2012 at 7:00 AM
If you’re familiar with the work of the Southern poet Sidney Lanier, you’ll know hewrote about the beauty of the Chattahoochee River in Georgia. “The Hooch,” as it’s known around here, starts up in the northeastern part of the state, runs through Atlanta and down into Alabama before emptying out into the Gulf of Mexico. Those of us who work in Google’s Douglas County, Ga. data center have a special fondness for the Chattahoochee because it’s an integral part of our ability to run a highly efficient facility.

I got an early peak at the Youtube video yesterday which had only 40 views.  24 hrs later the video has 7,488 views.  Google, water, and data centers is not as esoteric as you may think.

Here is the press release from Douglas County and Google GoogleDouglasCountyRelease.pdf


Google and Douglasville-Douglas County Water and Sewer Authority Unveil Reuse Water Facility

Recycled water used to cool Google’s data center equipment

(ATLANTA and DOUGLAS COUNTY, Ga.) - Douglasville-Douglas County Water and Sewer Authority (WSA) officials and Google executives on Thursday announced Google’s first reuse water system for one of their U.S. data centers. Google’s Douglas County data center is also the state’s first data center to conserve water using a reuse water system. The system, financed by Google and owned by WSA, is helping to keep the Chattahoochee River clean and conserving the reservoir's water supply.

“Working with Google on this reuse water system has been a great experience for the WSA. Our water supply gets hit hard during the drought season and in the summer months,” said Peter Frost, executive director of WSA. “The Google-funded sidestream facility is a welcomed reprieve on our reservoir’s water system and saves water capacity for our residents and businesses.”

Some people may flush this idea down the drain as not worth their effort.  But, there is another reason that few would think about.  One of the top risks to data center operations is the breaking of a water main supplying the data center.  Water infrastructure is one of the most ignored parts of society that are critical for life.  As one of my data center friends who told the story of having no water in his apartment for 2 days, it is hard to occupy a building without water.

This Google Water story that has been going on for a long time as the original financial investment from Google was in 2008.

In 2008, Google financed the building of the WSA’s Sweetwater Creek Sidestream Plant, which is a reuse treatment facility that intercepts up to 30 percent of the water from the local water and sewer authority’s treatment plant.

“At Google we’re always looking for smart ways to reduce our impact on the environment,” said Joe Kava, Google’s senior director of data center construction and operations. “We’ve been working for years on maximizing the efficiency of our servers and our data center designs so that we can minimize the entire energy footprint consumed by our data centers.”

It can be hard to bring in a 2nd water line to a data center, and on site storage of water is difficulty for a scenario of a week's worth of water.

What Google's recycled water system does is provide an alternative cooling water source that has many benefits.  Below are 7.

  1. 2nd source of cooling water (recycled water and potable city water)
  2. brand new and will last longer than data center (water mains can be up to 75 years old)
  3. supported by the local gov't (community relations in improved with joint projects)
  4. is part of the city's critical infrastructure which makes it a high priority to operate (Google gets to the top of the list after hospitals, fire, and police)
  5. financed by Google, city owned (Google's cash reserves put to funding innovation and thought leadership in sustainable data centers)
  6. cost effective, reduce cost of water and sewage fees (if you haven't looked at water and sewage costs, the costs are growing faster than any other consumable)
  7. good for the environment (obvious)