The Dalles, a small city of about 15,000 people, straddles the dividing line between the soggy forests of western Oregon and the dry fields on the eastern part of the state.
Water has always been central to The Dalles’ vitality. The city’s unusual name references a place where water flows through a narrow, rocky channel, according to the Oregon Historical Society.
Water is again a focus of public discourse in The Dalles, with the city council due to vote Monday night on a contentious deal with Google to supply more water to the tech company for two new data centers.
The deal appears to have the council’s backing, but it has generated skepticism among some residents, nearby farmers and environmentalists.
Here’s a look at the factors at play ahead of Monday’s vote:
Why does Google need water?
Google built its first data center in The Dalles back in 2005. It was the company’s first big corporate data center anywhere and Oregon’s first, too. Since then, Facebook, Apple and Amazon have all built large data centers in rural parts of the state, and Google has expanded.
Data centers are very resource intensive, typically using as much electricity as a small town to power their computers and substantial volumes of water to keep those computers cool.
Google says it may build two more data centers in The Dalles, but it needs more water. The company won’t say just how much more, but the city is near its maximum capacity of 10 million gallons a day.
So Google has offered to pay…