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Tuesday, April 02, 2013, 05:51 am PT (08:51 am ET)

High-tech water systems help drive Apple's Reno iCloud project

Part of Apple's $1 billion investment in its newest iCloud data center in Reno, Nev., goes toward providing clean water for efficient cooling in the high desert location. Here's what's involved in the mega project.

Truckee River


Other segments in this series have looked at Apple's commitment to building the world's greenest data centers, the company's jump start in construction at its Reno data center site, the massive scope of site preparation, the sophisticated water technology being installed and the futuristic data conduits that deliver iCloud's digital packets at the speed of light.

Apple's newest data center, located within the Reno Technology Park now under development by Unique Infrastructure Group, takes advantage of several favorable elements of the site's location.

Despite being located next to the Truckee River (shown above, across the freeway from the site) however, Apple's new iCloud facility needs a source of clean, reliable water. Instead of processing river water, it needs to pull a significant amount of water from underground aquifers.

Apple Reno data center site


Despite appearing to be bone dry, the site is actually supplied with underground sources that flow in from the north, but are held from running into the river by impermeable layers of rock. This provides plenty of water that meets the data center's high standards, ranging from low particulate counts to a balanced pH.

Apple Reno data center site


Large water infrastructure



Reno Data Center


Because the site lies just under a hill (above), it's also possible to build water tanks on the side of the slope to hold a supply that is then gravity fed to the facility, reducing the need to build water towers or additional pumping plants.

Reno Data Center


Water is so critical to the site's performance that parallel, redundant supply pipes are being laid, running from the well sources through massive valves (being buried, above) to the site itself. Stacks of dozens of pipes sit waiting for installation (below).

Reno Data Center


In front of the initial pilot data center facility Apple has already set up, you can see another set of large valves controlling the flow between different areas of the project (below, next to one of the large supply pipes being laid across the site).

Reno Data Center