Microsoft drains Arizona town’s water to fuel AI operations.

Article Summary


  • Microsoft’s new AI data center in Arizona is draining the town’s water supply
  • The center is using up to 56 million gallons of water a year

Key Elements:

Microsoft’s massive new AI data center in Goodyear, Arizona is using an estimated 56 million gallons of water a year when it’s completed. The plant opened in 2021 with two buildings, and plans for a third, designed for use by Microsoft and the heavily Microsoft-funded OpenAI. Powering AI requires vast amounts of electricity, which in turn generates heat and requires water to cool servers down. The state of Arizona has been tackling extreme weather, droughts, and high temperatures over the last few years, which could put the desert town’s water supply at risk if more centers open. Researchers at UC Riverside estimate that global AI demand could cause data centers to use up to 1.7 trillion gallons of fresh water by 2027. Microsoft has refused to provide exact figures on their water use at the Goodyear center, redacting exact figures in city records, citing them as proprietary information. The rise in global data centers and AI demand is expected to increase electricity consumption, doubling projections for electricity demand over the next nine years. The International Energy Agency predicts that data centers’ energy demand will equal that of Japan by 2026, presenting a challenge to power grids around the world.