Thirsty business

How the tech industry is bracing for a water-scarce future

Prineville is a sleepy town nestled in the sagebrush desert between the snowy peaks of Cascade volcanoes and the rumpled hills of the Ochoco Mountains. Stunted juniper and shaggy shrubs dot the flat-topped hills that rise above the community of 9,000 people in central Oregon. A narrow ribbon of green — the Crooked River Valley — winds through the parched, buff-colored landscape. It’s striking, but not an obvious place to escape a drought.

Yet California technology companies, like Facebook and Apple, have invested millions of dollars in data centers here over the last five years. A former timber town about two hours from Portland, Prineville is the self-proclaimed “cowboy capital” of Oregon — but it has fast become a high-tech hub too. That’s partly because of tax breaks and cheap energy, but it’s also because the cool, dry climate is ideal for data centers.

Read the full story at EARTH Magazine.

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