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UK drought: Thames Water asks datacentres to take into account using ‘raw water’ to cool their sites

Anton Maltsev –

Utility provider Thames Water is probing the water consumption habits of datacentres within its jurisdiction, since it seeks collaboration opportunities with the server farm industry to help ease pressure on supplies

Caroline Donnelly


Published: 24 Aug 2022 12: 00

Thames Water has confirmed that it really wants to work collaboratively with datacentre operators with sites within its jurisdiction to explore the chance of using raw water to cool their facilities.

Thames Water serves homes and business in elements of London, Kent and Essex, and also Berkshire, Gloucestershire and Surrey, and confirmed in a statement that it’s keen for more information about how exactly much water has been consumed by the datacentres within its regions of coverage.

We realize there’s increased demand for datacentres and we’ve started a targeted exercise to comprehend just how much water can be used by them, said John Hernon, strategic development manager at Thames Water, in a statement to Computer Weekly.

You want to work collaboratively with new centres to lessen their overall water usage and ensure there’s enough water for everybody.

Hernon revealed the business has already been working closely with consultancy firms which are plotting the buildouts of datacentres in Slough, Berkshire, where there’s a high concentration of server farms already functioning.

He claims this collaboration has already been yielding results: Our guidance has recently resulted in a substantial reduction in the quantity of water requested by these new centres because of help with additional storage and cooling procedures.

Days gone by 18 months has seen growing demands the water consumption habits of datacentres to become more closely scrutinised, following revelations about how exactly some US sites in drought-prone areas are consuming high levels of normal water and potentially exacerbating supply issues.

Thames Water, meanwhile, is among several utility providers to do something to guard water supplies following the UK experienced its driest July on record, prompting it to prohibit customers from using hosepipes to completely clean their cars and water their gardens from Wednesday 24 August 2022.

In the context of datacentres, Hernon confirmed the business is exploring the thought of getting datacentre operators to utilize non-drinking water referred to as raw water to help keep their facilities cool and decrease the pressure these facilities placed on supplies of potable drinking quality water.

Our main objective would be to reduce the level of water necessary to run a datacentre. It isnt essential for datacentres to utilize potable water for cooling. You want to look at how raw water may be used and reused, he said.

Thats why you want to engage with these lenders as soon as we are able to so we are able to influence important processes requiring water from the outset. We are also dealing with retailers and developers with this aswell.

Beyond Thames Waters jurisdiction you can find other areas of London and the South East where there are always a high proportion of datacentres sited, which are served by rival utility firm Affinity Water.

Computer Weekly contacted the firm to see if it has any plans to launch an identical probe to the main one Thames Water is undertaking, but received no response during publication.

News of the Thames Water probe comes hot on the heels of the overall London Assembly (GLA) going public using its concerns concerning the impact the influx of datacentres in West London and across the M4 corridor is wearing local electricity grid and its own supplies.

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