Last week Microsoft pulled its under-water server from its watery resting place but the obsession with water isn’t stopping there.

This week Microsoft revealed its plans to be water positive by 2030. That is to say, Microsoft hopes to reduce the amount of water it uses while replenishing water in stressed regions the firm operates in.

That first part is a rather big one when you consider that Microsoft’s Azure datacentres use a lot of water. This is not unique to Microsoft though with the US Department of Energy reporting that all datacentres in the US will likely use 660 billion litres of water by this year.

Water then is vital to datacentre operations, or is it?

In Arizona, Microsoft is using something called adiabatic cooling for half of the year in its datacentres.

It’s a fantastically nerdy process which is explained briefly in the video below. While the video deals directly with air conditioning, the solution can be applied in a number of applications.

As you can see from the video above, this method of cooling is much more energy efficient and – more importantly – uses less water than a cooling tower.

As for replenishing water, Microsoft isn’t sitting in a lab developing water (at least we don’t think so). Rather, the firm is looking at investing in water conservation initiatives.

For example, at its Silicon Valley Campus, Microsoft will use on-site rainwater collection and a waste-treatment plant to insure the campus’ non potable water comes from recycled sources on site.

The more notable investment is to improve accessibility to water.

“Our reduction in water use intensity and our replenishment commitments address the key issue of water availability, which is the amount of water that can be used to meet demand. That, however, is only part of the challenge. Equally important is the issue of accessibility, which is the supply of safe drinking water and sanitation. That is why we are partnering with nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) to ensure more than 1.5 million people have access to clean drinking and sanitation water,” wrote Microsoft president, Brad Smith.

Microsoft will be working with Water.org in seven countries to help improve accessibility to water. This work will start in Brazil, India, Indonesia and Mexico before it expands to China, Malaysia and South Africa.

This is over and above the wetland rehabilitation and other conservation projects which will make use of data to optimise water replenishment in water stressed regions.

You can read more about Microsoft’s exhaustive plans to be water positive by 2030 here.

[Image – CC BY 2.0 Robert Scoble]