A Utah state legislative committee will consider a bill that could eventually cut off millions of gallons of water for a major National Security Agency facility south of Salt Lake City as a protest against the mass collection of Americans’ data.
The bill, sponsored by Rep. Marc Roberts (R), would prohibit any municipality from providing “material support or assistance in any form to any federal data collection and surveillance agency.”
That’s a barely veiled reference to the Utah Data Center, a massive collection facility operated by the NSA in Bluffdale, a small suburb of Salt Lake City. The facility, completed last year at a cost of about $1.7 billion, houses super computers that require 65 megawatts of power, enough to power about 33,000 homes, according to the Associated Press.
All those computers require a lot of water, which keeps them cool. Bluffdale issued $3.5 million in bonds to pay for water lines that will eventually pump a million gallons a day into the facility. Bluffdale signed an agreement with the NSA that allows the agency to pay less for water than city ordinances would otherwise require.
The bill grandfathers in Bluffdale’s initial agreement with the NSA, but it would prohibit any further cooperation between Bluffdale or any other municipality and the NSA.
Roberts on Wednesday said the NSA came to Utah pledging to act according to the Constitution. “We all know and are aware that has been violated,” he told the committee, according to the Salt Lake Tribune.
The legislative committee on Wednesday asked Roberts to clarify parts of the bill, but none of the members expressed opposition.
The NSA’s water usage has come up before. Salt Lake Tribune reporter Nate Carlisle has sought to force Bluffdale to reveal just how much water the facility requires. The NSA contends information about water usage would allow someone to calculate the computing power inside the data center.
The data center isn’t much to look at. “It looks like a very large Dunder-Mifflin,” Carlisle told GovBeat earlier this year.