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Water restrictions on London data centres could be imposed by Thames Water

Written by Thu 27 Jul 2023

Thames Water may restrict the use of water in data centres based in London. Flow restricters could be fitted alongside a cost increase if water is used at peak times.

According to Thames Water’s Strategic Development Manager, John Hernon, these measures are designed to ease pressure on the utility company.

“These steps are necessary to reduce pressure on the infrastructure during hot weather when demand for water surges,” said Hernon in a statement to The Register.

Thames Water considered reducing water access to at least one London operator, but Hernon said to Bloomberg it was difficult to determine the most water-intensive data centres.

“We prefer to take a collaborative approach with data centres, including encouraging them to explore water reuse and recycling options on-site,” added Hernon.

It is unclear if these measures are a temporary solution and whether they would apply across the Thames Water region or just areas containing data centres.

These potential restrictions come as data centres face increasing scrutiny on their environmental impact. Running and cooling servers requires enormous power and water. This pressure is heightened when data centres are located in clusters close to cities, straining local resources.

In August of last year, Thames Water launched a probe into data centre water use in London and Slough. During a drought in the summer of 2022, a number of data centres suffered outages due to the heat, including two that cost London hospitals £1.4 million.

Water usage is a key sustainability issue that has been raised in the agenda of data centre operators. What’s more, environmental credentials are being studied more closely, as mandates on emission reporting may soon be enforced. Enterprises that can provide sustainable alternatives are viewed as more attractive options for customers.

As the spotlight turns to the data centre industry, there could be a struggle to dramatically decrease water usage without increasing electricity demand.

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Written by Thu 27 Jul 2023

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