Water Stewardship in Data Centers

We know water is a precious resource. We’re committed to conserving and reusing water, both in our on-site operations and by working with private and public entities to support water availability in communities where we operate data centers.

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Evaporative Cooling

Our preferred cooling strategy for data centers uses evaporative technologies.

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During the hottest months of the year, we have optimized systems to minimize water usage. Outside air is cooled through an evaporative process and pushed into the server rooms to keep hardware at stable operating temperatures. During cooler months, where possible, outside air is supplied directly to the data center without needing to be cooled.

AWS is constantly innovating the design of our cooling systems to further reduce water usage, including identifying opportunities to reduce water usage based on real-time sensor data.

Recycling Water and On-Site Water Treatment

We evaluate the opportunity to reduce our consumption of potable water and are actively expanding our use of nonpotable and recycled water for cooling purposes.

 industrial water cooling pipes in shades of blue and red.

In certain regions, we work directly with utilities and regulators to obtain approval for the use of recycled water in direct evaporative cooling technology. We’re continuing to work with water utilities in various regions to expand this recycled water infrastructure.

Through these actions, we’re actively contributing to sustainable water solutions by reducing our impact on the local potable water supply for the communities where we operate.

We also use on-site, modular water-treatment systems in multiple regions, which allow us to remove scale-forming minerals and reuse water for more cycles. Increasing our “cycles of concentration” contributes to reducing the water intake needed to cool our data centers.

Community Water Programs

Along with reducing our water usage, AWS looks for opportunities to return water to the communities within which we operate.

We have partnered with the City of Umatilla and the West Extension Irrigation District to deliver water to farmers in Oregon. Instead of going to a wastewater treatment plant, our clean cooling water goes into a canal that delivers the water to farmers for use in irrigation. With this project, we reuse up to 96% of the wastewater we discharge from our data centers in this region.

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In 2021, AWS funded watershed restoration efforts by The Nature Conservancy in Cape Town, South Africa, and São Paulo, Brazil. These completed projects have restored 365 hectares of land and increased water supply availability by 45 million gallons per year.

Through partnerships with Water.org and WaterAid in India and Indonesia, we initially intended to provide clean water to 165,000 people. By the time these partnerships concluded in early 2022, we had surpassed our goal and provided clean water and sanitation to over 250,000 community members.

In 2022, we began supporting a new set of projects, which include wetland creation in the Thames River Basin in England and water quality projects in the Chesapeake Bay watershed in the U.S.
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