Google's Oregon plans given the green light despite water concerns

Nov 12, 2021 | Posted by MadalineDunn

On Monday, The Dalles council unanimously approved a $28.5 million deal for Google to build two new data centers in the area. This approval has gone ahead despite water concerns; due to the area currently being drought-stricken and the proposed facilities potentially guzzling millions of gallons of water each day. According to Dave Anderson, public works director for The Dalles, this figure would be “less than 3.9 million gallons per day” - although this is still a huge figure. Yet, according to Anderson, “The city comes out ahead.”

Clearly, this isn’t a view held by residents, who have reportedly been vocally voicing their concerns. Councilor Tim McGlothlin commented: “When we receive emails and phone calls that call us names and use profanity, that’s just not appreciated. We’re doing our best to represent you.”

Google’s Kate Franko, regional head of data center public affairs, said that the centers will “help millions of people find directions, send emails, and search for information every day.” Yet, for many, the pros don’t outweigh the cons. One resident had outlined that she had seen her well-water drop and is concerned when push comes to shove and climate change further impacts water levels, Google would be prioritized. Anderson said that this would not be the case, expressing: “I think we’ve identified that the highest priority is the public health and safety needs of the community. After that, there is shared curtailment.”

Further to this, Anderson claimed the area will have “more water” through the deal.

The studies conducted in relation to the project, which assessed water supply, water quality and infrastructure, were in fact paid for by Google. He outlined: “The city ... raised many questions as all three of these studies were being developed, and challenged some initial findings to be sure that our interests were met.”

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