Utah Reporter Appeals NSA's Refusal to Disclose Water Usage

Wednesday, 19 Mar 2014 01:43 PM

By Lisa Barron

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A Salt Lake Tribune reporter is appealing the National Security Agency's refusal to disclose how much water it is using at its new data center in Bluffdale, Utah, on the grounds that it's a matter of national security.

After reporter Nate Carlisle requested local records relating to the data center in May, he received files with the water usage data redacted; he is appealing to the Utah State Records Committee on Wednesday, the Tribune reports.

In response to Carlisle's original public records request, David Sherman, the NSA's associate director for policy and records, wrote to Bluffdale arguing against releasing information about the amount of water being used, according to the newspaper.

"By computing the water usage rate, one could ultimately determine the computing power and capabilities of the Utah Data Center. Armed with this information, one could then deduce how much intelligence NSA is collecting and maintaining," Sherman wrote.

But for the state it is also a question of how much impact the data center is having on its residents.

"We are the second-driest state in the nation," Carlisle told Wired. "We're just in the habit of accounting for water in this state because we have to. There's just not enough water."

Carlisle argued in his written appeal, published by the Tribune, that the public has a stake in the data center's water usage, which was projected at one point to be about 1.2 million gallons a day.

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