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Water Stewardship

Water is an important, finite resource and we believe that every drop matters. We prioritize water stewardship across our global operations as a core part of our sustainability program and are transparent about how much water we consume.  

an icon of a drop of water

206,000 cubic meters of water per year contracted

In 2019, we contracted four new water restoration projects that will restore 206,000 cubic meters of water per year in our data center communities.

Conserving Water 

Minimizing water use is a key focus of our sustainability program, so we implement various solutions in our global offices and data centers to reduce our water use as much as possible. Within our operations, we have installed water-efficient systems in our kitchens and bathrooms and meter outdoor water use by planting native species and re-using rainwater where feasible. In our data centers, we have implemented highly efficient cooling designs that use less water by relying on outside air. In 2019, we began piloting a program that optimizes acceptable indoor environmental conditions in our data halls to reduce the amount of water we use for humidification. This pilot project at our New Mexico data center is yielding 40 percent water savings and we hope to expand to other locations in 2020. As a result of these efforts, we are proud to say that our data centers are among the most water efficient in the world. 

At our workplaces, we reduce our impact by investing in circular systems within our facilities that reuse water as many times as possible before directing it to wastewater treatment plants. A recent example includes our first district-scale blackwater treatment system in California, where landscaping water for our two new 46,000-square-meter buildings comes from water we have filtered and treated from our kitchen faucets, sinks, showers and toilets. The system’s microbiological and oxidative treatments make the water safe for reuse in landscaping, resulting in a loop that allows us to minimize our environmental impact. This new system, which became operational in 2019, is the largest system operating in a commercial building in California when it was deployed and will process more than 60,000 cubic meters of water each year. 

Annual Water Withdrawal

We use water to keep our data centers cool and to keep our offices running smoothly.

We’ve optimized our water use to achieve exceptional efficiency, but we’re also making sure that we get more out every drop we use.

Our renewable energy procurement has also resulted in substantial water savings when compared with sourcing energy from the standard utility energy mix. In 2019 alone, our water savings totaled 11 million cubic meters (over 3 billion gallons).

We publicly report our water data, including water withdrawal and consumption from both data centers and facilities, and the data is third-party verified. We have measured and reported on our water withdrawal for years but in 2018 started reporting our consumption as well. As a metric, water withdrawal tells us how much water we purchase for our operations, but a large amount of that water is returned to local wastewater treatment plants and can be used again further downstream. Water consumption tells us what we actually evaporate in our operations and gives us a better idea of our true impact.

Restoring Local Watersheds 

Given that water is a shared resource, we strive to be a good steward in the communities where we operate by investing in projects that restore local watersheds.  

For facilities that are located in water-stressed regions, we support water restoration projects that promote long-term sustainability of local watersheds. In 2019, we invested in four new water restoration projects in New Mexico and Oregon, restoring 206,000 cubic meters/year (54,525,000 gallons/year) of water in our data center communities, bringing the total cumulative volume contracted to 683,000 cubic meters/year (180,535,000 gallons/year) of water at the end of 2019.

Middle Rio Grande Restoration Project

Middle Rio Grande restoration project before image with low water

Photo by Paul Tashjain, Audubon New Mexico, 2018 

Middle Rio Grande restoration project after image with higher water

Photo by Paul Tashjain, Audubon New Mexico, 2019 

We completed our first large-scale infrastructure utility restoration project that will reuse wastewater in 2020 to irrigate parks in Utah. In New Mexico, we have partnered with environmental organizations like The Audubon Society and The Nature Conservancy to find sustainable solutions to restore the hydrology in a beneficial way and contribute toward reducing shared water challenges in local and regional watersheds. In addition, we contributed to an Aquifer Storage and Recovery Project, which will deliver millions of gallons of stored water from the aquifer to our operations in Prineville, Oregon and other community users near our data center. The project is expected to become fully operational in 2021.

Comanche Creek Restoration Project

Comanche creek before image with lack of water
Comanche creek after image with increased presence of water

Photos by Craig Sponholtz, Watershed Artisans, Inc.

These water restoration projects provide critical habitats for wildlife and improve ecosystem health in the regions where we operate. We also fund local community projects that serve to educate people on the importance of conserving water. 

2019 Contracted Water Restoration Projects

Middle Rio Grande Flow Restoration

Water rights leasing for environmental flows
New MexicoRio Grande123,000
Cedro Creek Restoration

Increased infiltration
New MexicoRio Grande74,000
La Jara Wetland

Wetland restoration
New MexicoRio Grande3,000
Ingram Meadow Restoration

Wetland restoration
OregonColumbia River6,000
Total Volume Contracted in 2019206,000

Driving Industry Standards for Water Stewardship

We recognize that water stewardship is a shared responsibility and that industry collaborations can play a role in scaling impact. To drive broader industry change, we partner on projects that assist public and private organizations in measuring the benefits of water stewardship across industries, supporting projects such as Volumetric Benefit Accounting Methodology and Guidance for Calculating Water Use Embedded in Electricity Purchasing. As a member of the Context-Based Water Targets Expert Advisory Group, we are working to help create metrics that will enable businesses to set meaningful goals around water. 

Facebook is a member of the World Resources Institute’s Aqueduct Alliance and we are a part of the Bonneville Environmental Foundation’s Change the Course Program to advance water restoration projects within our communities. 

Related Content

Saving Water In The Workplace

While we already minimize water use in our buildings by installing efficient restroom and kitchen fixtures and investing in drought-resistant landscaping, we wanted to do more to reduce overall water consumption. That’s why we collaborated with public and private sector partners to install our first blackwater treatment system at our headquarters.

Water Restoration in New Mexico

Minimizing our water use is a key focus at Facebook, and we are proud to say our data centers use 80 percent less water than the average data center. When we started building our Los Lunas Data Center in New Mexico, a region known for its dry climate, we knew we wanted to partner to find sustainable solutions to address a shared water challenge with the community.

Water Stewardship In Fort Worth

The growing gap between water supply and water demand in the Fort Worth area presented Facebook with a unique challenge when we decided to build a data center in Fort Worth in 2015. We built the Fort Worth Data Center to be as efficient as our other data centers, but we also knew we needed to find a creative solution that would extend that efficiency to the 150 acres of land on which our data center was being constructed.

Enhancing Water Efficiency Through Advanced Cooling Technology

The challenges of the growing global water crisis are well documented as demand for this finite resource continues to rise due to population and economic growth. We believe that a key way to address and mitigate the risk of this water supply and demand gap is for every sector and company to do its part in using water more efficiently.  Learn more about how we deploy innovative and water-efficient technologies at our data centers.

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