Amazon Web Services (AWS) have announced a new commitment to becoming water positive by 2030, returning more water to communities than it uses in direct operations. It is hoped that this will be achieved via four pillars of efficiency, recycling, reuse, and replenishment.
The United Nations estimates that, by 2025, 50 per cent of the world’s population is projected to live in water-stressed areas, with low-income families bearing the greatest brunt of this crisis.
AWS is partnering with global nonprofits to replenish water-stressed areas and return water to the communities where it operates. But a big part of getting to water positive starts with AWS’s data centres, where the company is working to improve water use efficiency and increase the use of sustainable water sources.
According to Suresh Soundararaj, principal mechanical engineer at AWS, in an ideal world, AWS would not use any water at all, but water is a crucial tool for cooling.“An AWS data center is a labyrinth of servers, routers, and networking cables, and all this hardware gets pretty hot, so we need to cool it.”
The preferred cooling strategy for AWS data centres uses evaporative technologies, but they also utilise free-air cooling. In Ireland and Sweden, for example, AWS uses no water to cool its data centres for 95 per cent of the year. Additionally, AWS uses real-time water use data to identify leaks, pilot new treatment technologies, and explore a range of operational changes.
They are also engaged in a number of projects to improve the replenishment of water in communities, to improve the quality of water tables, and increase the accessibility of clean water and sanitation in underserved communities.
These projects with nonprofits like WaterAid and Water.org have increased access to safe water for nearly 300,000 people in India and Indonesia.
AWS said that it will continue collaborations with charities and nonprofits that share the same goals. So far, AWS-funded replenishment projects have returned nearly 2.4 billion litres of water to communities and the environment.
The company is also working to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2040 as part of The Climate Pledge, which Amazon committed to in 2019.