Big tech data centres spark worry over scarce Western water


The Dalles Mayor Richard Mays looks at the view of his town and the Columbia River from his hilltop home in The Dalles, Oregon. Mays helped negotiate a proposal by Google to build new data centres in the town. — Photos: AP

THE DALLES, Oregon: Conflicts over water are as old as history itself, but the massive Google data centres on the edge of this Oregon town on the Columbia River represent an emerging 21st century concern.

Now a critical part of modern computing, data centres help people stream movies on Netflix, conduct transactions on PayPal, post updates on Facebook, store trillions of photos and more. But a single facility can also churn through millions of gallons of water per day to keep hot-running equipment cool.

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