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Microsoft photo and diagram showing its operations in Quincy.

The city of Quincy, Wash., will lease a water treatment plant from Microsoft on the site of the company’s data center in the city for a nominal $10 a year, then renovate and run the facility for the next 30 years. Officials say the deal will help the city finish its industrial water reclamation and reuse system without spending to build the infrastructure from scratch.

The arrangement, believed to be the first of its kind between a city and a data center operator, is being announced at a news conference this morning at the site of the Microsoft data center.

Here’s how Christian Belady, GM of Microsoft’s Data Center Advanced Development unit, describes the arrangement in a blog post.

We invested tens of millions of dollars to build our own water treatment plant.  At the same time, we began a dialogue with the City of Quincy regarding a longer-term potential partnership that included the use of water discharged from the local large food processing plants.  These companies use large amounts of potable water to wash and prepare many of the foods consumers purchase in local supermarkets.  By filtering that water after it is used by the food processing plants, we enabled a “reusable” water source to use for our cooling needs.  In addition, this eliminated our need for potable water, while also significantly recharging the supply returned to ground water with 80 percent of the treated water going back to the aquifer.

Moving forward, the City of Quincy will lease the water treatment plant from Microsoft for $10 annually and will provide the company with reduced water rates, with an option to buy it after 30 years. The plant will be operated, maintained and managed by the city for 30 years with a right to purchase the plant after that time.  By loaning these assets to the City, they were able to save significant construction costs for the new Reuse System.

Data centers traditionally use water for cooling but Belady notes that the company’s new modular Quincy data center, which went live in January 2011, “uses airside economization for cooling and substantially less water.”

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