Google has announced a new water stewardship target that will see the company commit to replenishing on average 120 percent of the water it consumes at its data centers and offices by 2030. To that end, the search giant says it will use freshwater alternatives to cool its server farms. In places like Douglas County, Georgia, the company already uses reclaimed wastewater to keep its servers running. Moving forward, it will work to double down on that practice by finding more opportunities to use wastewater and seawater.
At its offices, meanwhile, the company plans to use more on-site water sources, such as collected stormwater, for things like landscape irrigation and toilet flushing that don't require potable water. Google points to its Bay Area campuses and a landscaping project where it worked with local ecologists as an example of an initiative where it's already thinking about its water use.
"Our water stewardship journey will involve continuously enhancing our water use and consumption," said Google sustainability officer Kate Brandt in a blog post.
In its efforts to replenish more water than it consumes, the company says it will also invest in community projects working to address local water and watershed challenges in places where the company has data centers and offices. As an example of the work Google plans to do here, the company points to a partnership it already has in place with the Colorado River Indian Tribes to reduce the amount of water removed from Lake Mead. The reservoir, the largest in the US, faces a pressing water shortage due to a combination of overuse and extended drought.
Lastly, the company plans to continue working with communities, policymakers and planners to help them with tools and technologies they need to measure and predict water availability and needs. Here, the company references work it did with the United Nations Environment Programme to create the Freshwater Ecosystems Explorer. It's a tool that tracks national and local surface water changes over time.
Today's commitment comes after Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai announced the company would attempt to run all of its data centers and offices entirely on carbon-free energy by 2030. Pichai described the effort as a "moonshot," noting it would be tricky in some instances to achieve due to the remote location of some of Google's facilities.