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Prineville, Apple partner on long-term water supply project


The city of Prineville and Apple announced Wednesday they have teamed up to create a resilient, cost-effective and sustainable water supply solution to meet growing community demands for generations to come

The city’s building an Aquifer Storage and Recovery (ASR) system, a water management tool that allows the city to meet peak demands by taking advantage of the natural storage space found in geologic formations underground.

They expect the system to be up and running by the summer of 2020 with all construction finished by 2021.

Prineville engineers tell NewsChannel 21 Apple is Prineville’s largest water user because the company has two data centers there that use huge volumes of water to cool their facilities. The computers in the data centers are in constant danger of overheating.

It’s Apple’s second water conservation project in Prineville.

Its first data center consumed 27 million gallons of water in 2016, based on the most recent data available, and the company has added a second large facility since then.

The city’s news release continues below:

The move to an ASR system is in response to dramatic seasonal differences in the community’s current water supply needs — less than 1 million gallons per day in the winter vs. more than 4 million gallons per day in the summer, according to a news release from the city, which continues below:

With an ASR system, water is collected in the aquifer during periods of cooler temperatures, higher streamflow and lower demands. The stored water can later be recovered and used during periods of hotter temperatures and higher water demands, thereby easing peak demand stress on native water sources and reducing the need to build expensive storage facilities.

Prineville’s ASR system is expected to mitigate the long-term impacts of climate change, including reduced snowpack and stream flows, and provides for a readily available underground reservoir of stored water for use in the event of drought.

“When we began researching the future water needs of our community and its citizens, we were committed to finding a long-term solution that would ensure access to ample water delivered in an environmentally sustainable way,” said Prineville Mayor Betty Roppe. “With the help of our strong partnership with Apple, we are investing in infrastructure and capital improvements that will benefit our town for generations.”

A feasibility study conducted by the city last spring concluded that the region’s unique geology, including a buried canyon formed by the ancestral Crooked River, is favorable for the adoption of the aquifer storage system. The study revealed that the aquifer has a potential annual storage volume of up to 180 million gallons (MG) with a single existing city well, and up to 400 MG annually with the installation of additional wells.

“It is important for communities to plan for their water needs into the future, taking into account how their water supplies may be impacted with a changing climate,” said Justin Iverson, Groundwater Section Manager at the Oregon Water Resources Department. “Investing in water projects, such as ASR, can help communities be more resilient to drought and climate change.”

Apple is funding the $8.7 million project. Apple’s Prineville data center already runs on 100% renewable energy, and this project will add construction jobs in Prineville, in addition to the 100 jobs created by the data center. The company has also participated in local service projects, including providing iPads to first responders.

“Apple believes firmly that we are accountable for the water we use, whether it’s at our corporate offices, our data centers and retail stores, or in our suppliers’ facilities around the globe,” said Lisa Jackson, Apple’s Vice President of Environment, Policy and Social Initiatives.

“Our new water system project in Prineville will support our data center’s water needs, and more importantly, allows us to have a positive impact on the sustainability of Prineville’s water system for the years ahead, increasing the availability of clean, sustainable water as the community prepares for the impacts of climate change.”

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