Apple will be installing a water treatment plant at its data center in Prineville, Oregon, shifting the facility’s evaporative cooling system to recycled water and saving five million gallons of tapwater per year. 

The company has agreed to pay for the treatment facility costing millions of dollars, Prineville city officials announced, according to a report in the Oregonian. The plant could potentially expand to serve facilities belonging to other firms moving to the area, which is popular with data centers.

aple prineville google earth
Apple, Prineville – Google Earth

Drink problem 

“They’re doing this simply because we came up with a project that we can benefit from and they can benefit from,” said Prineville Mayor Betty Roppe, according to the Oregonian.

The Apple-funded treatment plant will take water from the city’s sewage system, and clean it up enough for use in the evaporative cooling systems at the data center. The water would otherwise have been used to irrigate golf courses or released into the Crooked River.

Evaporative cooling cools data centers while using less electricity, relying on the cooling effect of water evaporation instead. However, it is a thirsty process.

Last year, Apple used around 27 million gallons of water in Prineville, but this includes the process of building the site. Apple and Prineville have not said how much water the data center would use in normal operation.

Last year, Apple bought 200 acres more land to expand the 338,000 sq ft (31,000 sq m) data center. It has also bought a nearby hydroelectric power plant, and announced plans to use wind power there. 

Last week, Apple set up a subsidiary, Apple Energy, to get a better wholesale price for any surplus energy produced by any plant that it owns or operates. 

Facebook is building its third data center in Prineville, the town where it built its first facility. The Oregonian reports that Facebook’s Prinevill facilities use some 10 million gallons of water per year, most of it drilled form wells on-site.