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Amazon's cloud services unit sets target for water sustainability

Amazon is expanding its water sustainability efforts.

Amazon intends for its Amazon Web Services (AWS) cloud platform to give back water.

The e-tail giant announced that AWS will become water positive by 2030. This means AWS will return more water to communities than it uses in its direct operations. According to Amazon, in 2021 AWS reached a global water use efficiency (WUE) metric of 0.25 liters of water per kilowatt-hour, which Amazon says is a leading result among cloud providers.

AWS has been driving four key strategies in pursuit of becoming water positive by 2030: improving water efficiency, using sustainable water sources, returning water for community reuse, and supporting water replenishment projects. Following are highlights of each strategy.

Water efficiency: AWS uses advanced cloud services, such as Internet of Things (IoT) technologies, to analyze real-time water use and identify and fix leaks. AWS is also eliminating cooling water use in many of its facilities for most of the year, instead relying on outside air. For example, in Ireland and Sweden, AWS uses no water to cool its data centers for 95% of the year. AWS also invests in on-site water-treatment systems that allow it to reuse water multiple times, minimizing water consumed for cooling.

Sustainable sources: AWS uses sustainable water sources, such as recycled water and rainwater harvesting, wherever possible. In Northern Virginia, AWS worked with Loudoun Water to become the first data center operator in the state approved to use recycled water in direct evaporative cooling systems. AWS already uses recycled water for cooling in 20 data centers around the world and has plans to expand recycled water use in more facilities.

Community water reuse: After maximizing the use of water in its data centers, AWS is finding ways to return it to communities. In Oregon, AWS provides up to 96% of the cooling water from its data centers to local farmers at no charge for use in irrigating crops like corn, soybeans, and wheat.

Water replenishment: To date, AWS has completed replenishment projects in Brazil, India, Indonesia, and South Africa, providing 1.6 billion liters of fresh water each year to people in those communities. For example, in regions like Maharashtra and Hyderabad, India, and West Java, Indonesia, AWS is partnering with global clean water nonprofit to provide 250,000 people with access to safe water and sanitation. AWS is also launching several new projects, which, once completed, will provide more than 823 million liters of water to communities around the world each year.

This initiative adds to Amazon’s commitment of $10 million to to support the launch of the Water & Climate Fund, which will deliver climate-resilient water and sanitation solutions to 100 million people across Asia, Africa, and Latin America.

“Water scarcity is a major issue around the world and with today’s water positive announcement we are committing to do our part to help solve this rapidly growing challenge,” said Adam Selipsky, CEO of AWS. “In just a few years, half of the world’s population is projected to live in water-stressed areas, so to ensure all people have access to water, we all need to innovate new ways to help conserve and reuse this precious resource. While we are proud of the progress we have made, we know there is more we can do. We are committed to leading on water stewardship in our cloud operations, and returning more water than we use in the communities where we operate. We know this is the right thing to do for the environment and our customers.”

[Read more: Amazon launches $2 billion fund to promote sustainability]

As part of this new commitment, AWS will report annually on its WUE metric, new water reuse and recycling efforts, new activities to reduce water consumption in its facilities, and advancements in new and existing replenishment projects. To learn more, visit:

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