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Power of Google's cloud helping South Florida water consumers

Everglades From Drone
USGS
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Juggling the water needs of nine million people and the Everglades slow-moving River of Grass is at the heart of what the South Florida Water Management District does, and all that that entails is now easier since the supercomputing power of Google’s cloud is using its environmentally-focused software to gather the day-to-day data water engineers rely on

If you drink water in South Florida, you are now a Google customer.

Juggling the water needs of nine million people and the Everglades slow-moving River of Grass is at the heart of what the South Florida Water Management District does.

It’s no easy feat, satiating residents from Orlando to the Florida Keys with enough water left over to maintain nature's balance, but one made easier now that the supercomputing power of Google’s cloud is using its environmentally-focused software to gather the day-to-day data water engineers need.

“The South Florida Water Management District is proud to continue our water quality improvement efforts using the best available science and tools,” said Sean Sculley, South Florida Water Management District’s chief of applied science. “Our partnership with Google … comes at a pivotal time in Florida’s history and recently enhanced environmental restoration efforts. These sustainability solutions will help us to make better decisions for the communities and environment in South Florida.”

“Our partnership with Google … comes at a pivotal time in Florida’s history and recently enhanced environmental restoration efforts. These sustainability solutions will help us to make better decisions for the communities and environment in South Florida.”
Sean Sculley, South Florida Water Management District’s chief of applied science

Google’s cloud computing is taking over much of that time-consuming work – collection and analysis of much of the data, processing it, and presenting it – so the computers free up the SFWMD’s engineers to focus on big-picture issues.

“Having that more quickly at their disposal will give them more time to do science stuff instead of data manipulation,” Sculley said.

He said Google’s environmental programs will also help South Florida’s water managers devise plans to combat climate change, as well as help design ecological restoration efforts. Using Google’s environmental cloud programs will cost taxpayers about 1-million-dollars a year.

The computing package is called Google Public Sector and its climate insights for natural resources solutions are powered by Google Earth Engine running on Google Cloud and Climate Engine — all to help support the availability of drinking water for Florida residents, while also preserving national treasures like the Everglades.

Sculley believes the cloud computing is so powerful that it can learn to foresee when algae growth is set to clog the heart of South Florida’s water supply.

“We hope to give this proof of concept of having a predictive tool for Lake Okeechobee before the beginning of the next harmful algae bloom season,’ he said.

Environmental reporting for WGCU is funded in part by VoLo Foundation, a non-profit with a mission to accelerate change and global impact by supporting science-based climate solutions, enhancing education, and improving health.

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