A city in Oregon has dropped its lawsuit to keep the water used by “eco-conscious” tech-giant Google private.
According to The Blaze, Google, which touts itself as “eco-conscious,” showed no conscience in trying to hide the fact that it consumed nearly 300 million gallons of water during a drought.
Residents of The Dalles, Oregon, where the tech giant operates a data center, learned that after Google faced going to court to defend its water consumption.
Much of Oregon, like large swaths of the western U.S., is experiencing severe or extreme drought conditions, affecting nearly 550,000 people — although the area near The Dalles is rated as in moderate drought or “abnormally dry” by the U.S. Drought Monitor.
Google wanted more water for its operations and cut a deal with The Dalles City Council. Google could get its water by spending $28.5 million to upgrade the city’s water system.
The Oregonian newspaper sought to find out how much water Google used and how that would affect residents struggling under drought conditions. It filed a public records request for Google’s water usage.
The city then sued on Google’s behalf to keep the amount confidential. Its lawsuit contended that Google’s water usage amounted to “trade secrets,” the release of which would benefit its competitors.
The Blaze noted on Friday that the lawsuit was dropped recently after Google relented and released its consumption records.
Google reported withdrawing 358.3 million gallons last year, while discharging only 83.8 million gallons — a difference of 274.5 million gallons.
WaterWatch, a local watchdog group, noted that was enough water to flood The Dalles’ seven square miles with water 3 inches deep.
Mayor Richard Mays said the city changed its position after Google signaled its water consumption was not really a trade secret.
The Blaze reported that nationwide in 2021, Google consumed at least 3.4 billion gallons of water for its operations. On average, according to the company itself, data centers on average use 450,000 gallons daily.
Last month Urs Hölzle, senior vice president of Google’s technical infrastructure, wrote in a company blog post that using so much water was a “climate-conscious approach to cooling our data centers,” and actually was beneficial to the climate.
“Water is the most efficient means of cooling,” Hölzle wrote. “When used responsibly, water cooling can play an important role in reducing emissions and mitigating climate change.”