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NSA’s Data Center So Big It May Use Up To 1.7M Gallons Of Water A Day

Utah data center

The massive NSA data center currently being built in Bluffdale, Utah is so big that it could need as many as 1.7 million gallons of water a day for operations, according to a recent report by media outlet KSL Utah.

The report quotes a Jordan Valley River Conservancy District assistant general manager and chief engineer (phew), Alan Packard, who has said that it is expected the center will use around 1% of total water demand for the district. This amount of water is similar to the amount used by large soft drink bottling plants. It’s expected that it will take “several years” before the new data center uses that much water, presumably until it has gathered a great deal of data. This gives the district enough time to develop new supplies of water, which it is already actively working to do.

The Bluffdale City manager, Mark Reid, has somewhat absurdly described the NSA data center and the new infrastructure around it as a significant benefit to the city. You see, the massive spy cloud (not his words) is improving resources and infrastructure in the area to an extent the city would not otherwise be able to. The government apparently funded $7 million in infrastructure to the data center, and another $5 million in infrastructure back from the project site that will allow a third of the water to be recycled.

How’s that for a positive spin on what appears to be a massive escalation of the apparatus used to form a mass surveillance state? The Stasi would certainly have been jealous of this kind of massive and advanced electronic surveillance project. The NSA has of course said it will not spy on (most) Americans, but it’s obviously a HUGE data center that can hold a great deal of data for a very long time.

Further, the millions spent on this water and electrical infrastructure are a drop in the bucket of what is being spent of taxpayers money on the spy center, according to a report from The Guardian.  It’s a $1.7 billion project, which is taking 2 years to develop. It will reportedly use supercomputers to store and analyse massive amounts of data.

The data center covers about 1 million square feet of a previously unused national guard base, and by September 2013 is expected to employ a staff of around 200 technicians. The center has four 25,000 square ft halls to house servers, and an additional 900,000 square ft of area for administration and technical support.

The Guardian has cited William Binney, a mathematician and previous NSA whistleblower who worked for the NSA for nearly 40 years and helped automate its spying network, as saying the center will be capable of sucking in 20 terabytes of data per minute. He has said the NSA will be able to retroactively analyse and use the vast amounts of information gathered and stored at the center. Of course it won’t be gathering and storing any of your private data, right?

Wikimedia Commons image: NSA Data Center, Bluffdale, Utah
Via KSL Utah, The Guardian, Wired


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