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April 11, 2016updated 05 Sep 2016 11:29am

Public pressure mounts as data centres blamed for draining world’s water supplies

News: Operators risk intense scrutiny from general public, governments and lobbying groups.

By Joao Lima

Data centre executives worldwide have been urged to act on their water guzzling data centre hubs, which are draining water supplies across the globe.

The call has been made by UK-based cloud and data centre services provider Romonet, which has developed a big data and predictive analytics Platform aimed at monitoring water-related sustainability, as well as financial and operational challenges, in the data centre.

The company has added water analytics functions to Platform, to monitor water efficiency, capacity consumption and the cost of water itself. Taking on collected data, data centre managers were able to analyse and understand the trade-off between energy, cost and water consumption.

Romonet said data centre water consumption is rising rapidly as organisations trade improved power efficiency for unsustainable water usage practices.

The company said that cooling is behind most of the water consumption in the data centre as companies pump "massive amounts of water" into cooling towers for energy efficiency purposes.

An example of systems consuming high levels of water in the data centre is adiabatic cooling. The system works by evaporating water with a corresponding reduction in temperature. It then places a water distributer that keeps pouring over to a water reservoir.

Hot air crosses way with the water in an evaporative pad and it is cooled down instantly, according to AIT. The cooled air is then distributed around the data centre via a fan.

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Chillers, evaporative cooling and more emerging technologies like liquid emerging cooling are also contributing for data centres high water consumption.

Romonet said that the usage of water is predominant in hot climates and desert regions where public water supplies are under enormous pressure.

"During the process water is often treated with a cocktail of industrial chemicals and later drained back into municipal sewage systems," the company said in a statement.

It also said that any organisation that does not address its water consumption risks intense scrutiny from the general public, customers, shareholders, environmental lobbying groups such as Greenpeace, and from national and regional governments which are tasked with tackling large-scale industrial usage and identifying ways to secure fresh water reserves for agricultural and national security purposes.

Zahl Limbuwala, CEO of Romonet, said: "With water subsidiaries ending and public pressure mounting, organisations cannot be frivolous with how they treat our environment. Water is not merely a cost challenge, but a highly sensitive CSR objective.

"This challenge must be addressed now, not in the future when it is too late. Organisations should act positively before they potentially find themselves under the public spotlight for what some consider corporate mismanagement and environmental indifference."

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