June 12, 2019

Charleston Digital Corridor Supports Google’s DHEC Groundwater Allocation Application

Charleston Digital Corridor

Recently, much has been said about Google's request for a groundwater use permit. Considering the level of capital investment the company has made in their Berkeley County Data Center, including the recent $600 million expansion, we thought it would be helpful to provide a few facts:

  • Google must ensure that sufficient water supply will be accessible to avert any remote risks of operational failure. The company currently employs a mix of potable water supply and groundwater to meet their conservative water reserve needs.
  • With the recently announced major expansion project, and a new Charleston Water System water line to Berkeley County underway, Google will once again prioritize this increased potable water supply ahead of backup groundwater once the line is complete.
  • The aquifer doesn't belong to any one municipality or entity. It belongs to the state and DHEC determines groundwater allocations based on extensive research and information that is included in its applications. All groundwater applications are location and volume specific to determine potential impact to the aquifer.
  • The DHEC application clearly notes that Google has a designated water use policy to prioritize potable supplies ahead of groundwater. They are primarily pursuing the groundwater permit to serve as backup. Because server cooling is the core operational requirement for a data center, they, like any other company, must ensure that they have access to supplies that can withstand any extreme worst-case scenario (including extreme heat, potable supply disruptions, pump failures etc.).
  • This chart illustrates the groundwater permit renewal round completed by all Tri-County permit holders in 2018, which did not face any public objections. The chart clearly shows that Google isn't the aquifer's largest groundwater user.

As an organization focused on building a high-wage economy in the Tri-County, and after reviewing the aforementioned facts, the Charleston Digital Corridor supports Google's pending DHEC groundwater allocation application.