April 23, 2024 at 12:37 pm

Microsoft’s AI Is Draining 56 Million Gallons Of Drinking Water From A Small City In Arizona

by Trisha Leigh

Source: Shutterstock

One of the many major environmental issues that is staring at us from the not-so-distant future is the fact that clean drinking water could quickly become scarce.

So, the fact that Microsoft’s AI requires a lot of it could be yet another strike, as far as public opinion goes.

There is a Microsoft data center in Goodyear, Arizona, that requires quite a lot of water to support cloud computing and AI.

Since it’s located in a desert, that’s creating a bit of an issue.

Source: Shutterstock

You probably know that AI requires a huge amount of energy. You might be less aware of the amount of water it needs in order to mitigate the risk of overheating.

Microsoft has been avoiding the question of just how much water their Goodyear plant is siphoning from the desert, but estimates top 56 million gallons of drinking water every year.

That’s as much as 670 area families would consume in a year.

It’s a lot of water anywhere, but because Arizona’s Sonoran Desert is already dealing with drying in the Colorado River and commercial development, it’s almost certainly contributing to a crisis.

The city of Phoenix says that the plant’s water use is protected under industrial water rights and “does not impact the city’s water portfolio.”

Source: Shutterstock

Arizona Attorney General Kris Mayes says that this is the result of choices that may come back to haunt the state’s residents in the future.

“We’re going to have to make tough choices in the near future to make sure our state is protected for future generations. Allowing one more data center to come to our state is an easy but stupid decision in a lot of cases.”

Data centers everywhere, particularly ones that fuel AI efforts, are likely going to meet with pushback from environmental groups in the future.

In places like the Sonoran Desert, people will probably have more reason than ever to think AI isn’t a good thing at all.