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View Diary: NSA: Our water usage should be top secret (92 comments)

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    •  This... (2+ / 0-)
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      Jaimas, JesseCW
      “By computing the water usage rate, one could ultimately determine the computing power and capabilities of the Utah Data Center,” wrote the NSA’s associate director for policy and records, David Sherman, in an undated letter filed with Bluffdale in response to the Tribune’s public records request. “Armed with this information, one could then deduce how much intelligence NSA is collecting and maintaining.” […]
      Well, DUH!

      'Cuz freedom can't protect itself ~~ EFF ~ EPIC ~ ACLU

      by markthshark on Thu Mar 20, 2014 at 12:59:34 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Not as readily as this statement implies. (0+ / 0-)

        Granted, the NSA may be using fresh water for cooling but what is meant here by "using?"  Certainly it's not disappearing.  What I would expect is happening is that fresh water is being used as a heat sink at some rate, and at whatever rate there's a change in temperature and you'd have to know both numbers to determine how much heat energy is being drawn out over unit time (which would be a heat power).  If you knew that, you could make a guess at how many servers of a given configuration would have to be running flat out to convert that much electrical power into heat - but you don't know that configuration and even if you did, you wouldn't have a way to map server activity to how much "intelligence is being gathered," for doing so would require some accounting of just what "intelligence" is.  So you'd really only be piling up speculation atop speculation.

        Now, having the NSA - or for that matter, any data center or any other heat-generating enterprise like an alumimum production facility or a nuclear reactor - contribute to the heat pollution in a given area is a separate problem to look at; I recall that a nuke plant in TN used to heat up a lake so much that it was finally determined that it exacerbated the fog over a chain-reaction-wreck-prone stretch of I-75.  Heat pollution can also play havoc with ecology, giving you algal blooms and/or mass fish kills.  Alternatively, if this facility is evaporating fresh water - which is what you have to do if you've got too much power to sink for a natural water flow to take it away - then the water supply is effectively being hijacked and thrown into the atmosphere as vapor; someplace downwind will get it back as rain.  So there may be things to look into but mere disappearance of fresh water isn't what's going on.

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