London: Thames Water considers restricting London data centers' water usage

Jul 27, 2023 | Posted by MadalineDunn

Thames Water has announced that it is considering restricting data center water-use in London. The measure could reportedly include charging operators more at peak times and adding flow restrictors to pipes.

Initially, the private utility undertook an assessment to get insight into how much water was being utilised by data centers in London and Slough back in the UK heatwave last year. However, it now looks like it could be moving beyond working with operators to reduce water use and instead push forward with measures to cap water usage. It's not yet clear whether or not these measures would be temporary, and which data center specifically they apply to. 

Speaking about the decision to move forward with restrictions, Thames Water's John Hernon said: "During the extreme heat wave and drought last summer we saw the number of leaks at least double, partly due to ground movement, and partly due to the higher pressures we pumped at to meet demand."

"Whilst we are looking at physical methods to reduce water use, including introducing flow restrictions on pipes, we prefer to take a collaborative approach with data centers, including encouraging them to explore water reuse and recycling options on-site."

"Our job as a water company is to build resilience to ensure we keep our customers' taps flowing and protect our local environment and water resources, including rivers and ground aquifers," Hernon said to Bloomberg.

The utility itself has debts of £14 billion ($17.5 billion) and has been hit with accusations of continued poor performance, having been named the worst-performing water company in England by regulator Ofwat. Indeed, this year, the company revealed it did not expect to meet its targets on reducing leaks.