AWS Makes Water Positive Commitment to Return More Water to Communities Than It Uses by 2030
Amazon Web Services, Inc. (AWS), an Amazon company, announced it will be water positive (water+) by 2030, returning more water to communities than it uses in its direct operations. The company also announced its 2021 global water use efficiency (WUE) metric of 0.25 liters of water per kilowatt-hour, demonstrating AWS’s leadership in water efficiency among cloud providers. AWS is already well on the path to becoming water+ and as part of this new commitment 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.
“Water scarcity is a major issue around the world and with the 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.”
AWS has been driving four key strategies in pursuit of becoming water+ by 2030: improving water efficiency, using sustainable water sources, returning water for community reuse, and supporting water replenishment projects.
Water efficiency: AWS is constantly innovating across its infrastructure to reduce water consumption. It achieves its industry-leading water efficiency by using advanced cloud services, such as Internet of Things (IoT) technologies, to analyze real-time water use and identify and fix leaks. AWS further improves operational efficiency by 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. Using recycled water, which is only suitable for a limited set of applications such as irrigation and industrial use, preserves valuable drinking water for communities. 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 as it works toward becoming water+.
Community water reuse: After maximizing the use of water in its data centers, the spent liquid is still safe for many other uses, and AWS is finding more 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 meet its water+ commitment, AWS is investing in water replenishment projects in the communities where it operates. Replenishment projects expand water access, availability, and quality by restoring watersheds and bringing clean water, sanitation, and hygiene services to water-stressed communities. To date, AWS has completed replenishment projects in Brazil, India, Indonesia, and South Africa, providing 1.6 billion liters of freshwater 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 Water.org to provide 250,000 people with access to safe water and sanitation. Building on its existing portfolio of water replenishment programs, AWS announced several new projects, which, once completed, will provide more than 823 million liters of water to communities each year, including:
- India: AWS is providing continued support to WaterAid to complete projects in Hyderabad and Andhra Pradesh after they were launched in March 2022. Since then, WaterAid has already completed five piped water systems and new groundwater recharge projects, which will supply 500 households–approximately 2,100 people–with an estimated 47 million liters of water per year. WaterAid also conducted education campaigns on water conservation in these communities to educate residents on practical ways they can conserve clean water, use rainwater harvesting, and conduct water audits.
- UK: AWS is working with The Rivers Trust and Action for the River Kennet to create two wetlands on a tributary of the River Thames, one of the most important water catchment areas in the UK. The wetlands will recharge over 587 million liters of groundwater per year and improve water quality by receiving and treating polluted runoff from farms and roadways, addressing growing water scarcity and boosting water quality in the Thames River basin.
- US (California): Beginning this winter,AWS, the conservation non-profit Freshwater Trust, and the Omochumne-Hartnell Water District will recharge 189 million liters of groundwater per year using winter water from the Cosumnes River. This will allow water to gradually flow through the groundwater table and back into the Sacramento and San Joaquin watershed, increasing water flows during drier summer months. This lowers the temperature of the river, improves salmon habitat, and increases summer flows into the San Francisco Bay Delta, a critical water supply source for the communities in the region.
The announcement adds to Amazon’s commitment of $10 million to Water.org 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. This donation will directly empower 1 million people with water access by 2025, providing 3 billion liters of water each year to people in water scarce areas.
“Our work with Amazon is supported by the shared belief that solving the global water crisis is possible. We commend AWS for committing to return more water than it uses by announcing Water+ by 2030,” said Matt Damon, co-founder of Water.org. Gary White, Water.org CEO and co-founder, added, “Our collaboration with Amazon and AWS already brings over 805 million liters of safe water to communities around the world every year, and we are excited to continue to work with Amazon to bring even more safe water to families in need.”
“WateReuse Association celebrates AWS’s commitment to go water positive by 2030, and for integrating water recycling as a key component in its goal to protect water resources, local ecosystems, and spur economic development,” said Patricia Sinicropi, executive director of WateReuse Association. “The progress AWS has made in using recycled water for cooling in 20 of their data centers already shows great leadership for the industry. We look forward to collaborating with Amazon to implement water reuse for the benefit of their operations and for the communities in which they operate.”
“AWS’s announcement to be water positive by 2030 demonstrates a clear commitment to water stewardship and sustainability,” said Mary Wenzel, managing director of corporate engagement at The Nature Conservancy. “AWS’s support of our work has helped improve water security for people and nature in water-stressed regions in South Africa and Brazil. We look forward to continuing our relationship with AWS to improve water quality and quantity by protecting and restoring watersheds around the world.”