Wanting to keep Google’s water use a secret, Oregon city sues news organization

A city in Oregon is suing a news organization, hoping to keep secret how much water Google will use to cool server farms.

The city of The Dalles filed suit in state court in October 2021, seeking to overturn the ruling of a county district attorney, who said Google’s water use is a public record.

The Wasco County district attorney ordered The Dalles to provide the water records to The Oregonian/OregonLive. In its lawsuit, The Dalles is asking a judge to intervene, arguing the water use is a Google “trade secret” and exempt from disclosure under Oregon law.

“Google’s attempt to cloak its use of a vital community resource — water — is irreconcilable with the requirements of Oregon public records law,” said Ellen Osoinach, staff attorney for the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, which is representing The Oregonian/OregonLive in the case. “Oregonians have a right to this important information.”