The company's water use is soaring in large part thanks to AI.

So Thirsty

Google's water consumption is rising rapidly as its push into the energy-intensive AI world continues.

According to the tech giant's 2023 Environmental Report, the company used an astronomical 5.6 billion gallons of water last year. That's a 20 percent increase over its 2021 usage, which can likely be attributed in large part to Google's growing AI efforts. Training these algorithms in massive data centers consumes immense amounts of energy, plus huge amounts of water for cooling.

And the majority of this water isn't even being pulled out of streams — it's clean enough to be used as drinking water.

It's not a good look, especially considering water scarcity is turning into a pressing global issue, including on the West Coast where the tech giant is based.

Anything But Refreshing

The situation has gotten so bad, Google's planned data center in Arizona switched to "air-cooled technology" due to water shortages in the area, according to Insider.

And in its report, Google does claim that 82 percent of its freshwater use last year came from regions with "low water stress."

It's also not just a Google problem. Meta and OpenAI are consuming massive amounts of water to keep their data centers running, a significant hidden cost behind the ongoing AI arms race.

Experts estimate that Meta's latest AI model, Llama 2, doubled the company's water intake compared to the model's predecessor.

Google, at least, is pledging to do better.

"[The increase in water consumption] was due to business growth, and aligns with other activity-based data," a spokesperson told Gizmodo. "We’re working to address the impact of our water consumption through our climate-conscious data center cooling approach and water stewardship strategy, including our 120 percent replenishment target."

More on water usage: ChatGPT Is Consuming a Staggering Amount of Water

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