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Alphabet Inc’s Google aims to replenish 20 per cent more water than its offices and data centres use by 2030, the company said on Thursday, addressing concerns about water-guzzling tech facilities amid record droughts.

“We are pledging to a water stewardship target to replenish more water than we consume by 2030 and support water security in communities where we operate,” Google Chief Sustainability Officer Kate Brandt wrote in a blog post. “This means Google will replenish 120 per cent of the water we consume, on average, across our offices and data centres.”

Google consumed 3.4 billion gallons of water in 2019, its most recent disclosure. It declined to comment on current or past replenishment rates.

Google uses water to cool its data centres’ stacks of computers that store and process search queries, YouTube videos and other data. Researchers have said a shift is needed as climate change worsens droughts worldwide.

Google plans to reach its new target by using less water at its buildings and then helping with conservation in surrounding communities, starting with those where water is especially scarce.

Google’s new measures include collecting stormwater for flushing toilets and funding removal of water-hungry invasive plants. In Southern California, Google is even helping to install toilet leak detection technology in low-income housing, to cut waste and keep the water cycling through plumbing systems.

Google will continue to help vendors reduce consumption, it said.

Microsoft Corp a year ago announced a goal of being water positive by 2030 without specifying a replenishment target.

Google said in September it planned to run its offices and data centres on carbon-free energy around the clock.

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