We Now Know How Much Water Google’s Oregon Data Centers Use After The Dalles Drops Lawsuit Against Journalists

By Sebastian Moss  |  Dec. 19, 2022  |  Data Center Dynamics

The data centers use more than a quarter of The Dalles city, and consumption is rising.

The Dalles has dropped its lawsuit against The Oregonian, which filed a public records request to see the water deal it signed with Google.

That means that how much water Google’s Oregon data centers use is now a matter of public record.

Google funded the lawsuit against the local publication, providing more than $100,000.

In 2021, the company’s facilities consumed 355.1 million gallons of water, The Oregonian/OregonLive reports.

Looking further back, consumption is as follows:

  • 2020: 279.8 million
  • 2019: 233.3 million
  • 2018: 150.7 million
  • 2017: 124.2 million
  • 2016: 113.1 million
  • 2015: 148.3 million
  • 2014: 132.3 million
  • 2013: 108.9 million
  • 2012: 104.3 million

Google’s water use has nearly tripled since 2017 after it opened its third data center in the campus and increased the density of its other facilities.

Two more Google data centers are planned at the site.

“If the data center water use doubles or triples over the next decade, it’s going to have serious effects on fish and wildlife on source water streams, and it’s potentially going to have serious effects for other water users in the area of The Dalles,” John DeVoe, executive director of the nonprofit advocacy group WaterWatch, told the local publication.

He said that the city’s overall water use has doubled from 2002 to 2021, putting the Dog River and the endangered fish species that rely on it at risk. Google accounts for 29 percent of the city’s total consumption.

The Dalles is in a meteorologically dry region, and is in the midst of a multiyear drought.

Google and the city say that their contract takes water needs into account, with Google committing to pay $28.5 million to upgrade the city’s water infrastructure.

It also gave the water rights to its industrial land to the city, in return for more municipal water.

The city has committed to give more water to Google to support its new data centers, and may develop unused groundwater rights and pump treated water from The Dalles’ water treatment plant into the city’s main aquifer.

Google’s data centers have received hundreds of millions in dollars of tax breaks in the city, but the first of its 15-year tax breaks expired this November.

This story originally appeared in Data Center Dynamics on Dec. 19, 2022.