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More water poured into the National Security Agency's Utah Data Center in 2014 than in previous years, but the facility is still paying for water that it is not using.
Records provided by Bluffdale show Data Center water usage spiked to 6.6 million gallons during August. For the months of January through November the time frame reviewed by The Tribune the water usage was higher than it was for those months in 2013.
The NSA paid Bulffdale $31,692.10 for the months of January through March, and again for June through November.
In the months of April and May, the bill was $36,417 per month even though the Utah Data Center used less water than it would in the summer.
Bluffdale City Manager Mark Reid on Friday said he did not know why the April and May bills were greater. Bluffdale city attorney Vaughn Pickell said the city had no comment on the NSA's water bill.
NSA spokeswoman Vanee Vines on Friday declined to discuss water usage at the Utah Data Center.
"We are unable to discuss the secure operations of the Utah Data Center," Vines said. "Construction has been completed."
The NSA had previously stated the Utah Data Center would be operational in the fall of 2013. In October of that year, the Wall Street Journal reported electrical problems were hampering the facility.
Water usage was more sporadic in 2013 peaking sharply in July then plummeting through the fall before increasing again in December.
In 2014, the changes were not as dramatic.
Water is essential to help cool the facility and computing components for the center, a massive digital storage hub for the NSA and other intelligence agencies.
U.S. Army Corps of Engineer plans called for the center to use 1.7 million gallons a day. Bluffdale City Council minutes indicate that figure was later reduced to 1.2 million gallons a day.
Bluffdale built a $3 million water-delivery system for the center. To ensure it would be able to repay the bond, the city required minimum monthly payments called "take or pay" from the NSA. But the contract assumes the NSA will exceed those minimums, at which point Bluffdale begins charging the NSA at a rate that currently amounts to $2.05 per 1,000 gallons.
The version of the contract between the NSA and Bluffdale released by the city redacts the planned amounts of the minimum payments and the Utah Data Center's projected water usage. It is unclear how much more water the NSA could receive with the minimum payment.
A bill in the Utah Legislature targets the cooperation Bluffdale and the state have given the NSA. HB150 sponsored by Marc Roberts, R-Santaquin, requires that state and local governments "refuse material support or assistance to any federal data collection and surveillance agency."
A current draft of the bill says existing agreements with such surveillance agencies can continue through the length of the contract, but may not be renewed after July 1.
At a hearing in November, lawmakers expressed concern, but no outright opposition, to Roberts' bill. They were worried it was too broad.
A fiscal note attached to HB150 this month says that if interpreted narrowly, the bill will not impact the state's budget. If interpreted broadly, the fiscal note says, the bill would prohibit Utah from taking $458.3 million in federal funds in the current fiscal year and cost Utah $1.75 billion in ongoing federal funds beginning next year.
Roberts' bill is not yet scheduled for another hearing.