Google lifted the curtain on its closely guarded data centers last month, publishing dozens of photos of the Internet giant’s back-end engines and the people who maintain them. Included were images of cords and tapes inside the company’s Berkeley County complex as well as shots of the large-scale cooling operations outside.

In a follow-up interview, Joe Kava, Google’s senior director of data center construction and operations, revealed a bit more about the South Carolina site, which sits just off U.S. Highway 52 between Goose Creek and Moncks Corner. Kava said the local data center is the only one in Google’s inventory that is experimenting with using a stormwater retention pond to help cool servers.

“If it works, then that technology ... there’s other sites that it could be applied to,” he said.

In addition to potentially keeping Google’s search and email programs from overheating, the pond also has become home to plenty of algae, which meant Google had to stock it with fish. And since this is the Lowcountry, the food chain didn’t stop there.

“So we now have a 4-foot alligator that has taken up residence in our pond as well,” Kava said, clearly amused. He added that government experts have said it’ll have to be removed once it grows to six feet long.

Kava also provided an update on Google’s expansion at the 500-acre site. The company opened a $600 million data center there in 2008 and had said it would build and open another $600 million facility next door this year.

But it seems that hasn’t quite happened yet.

“We’re still building out the rest of the building, but part of it is up and running,” Kava said.

He said all of the heavy construction work will be done by the end of this year but full deployment won’t happen until next year.

Kava hinted there could be further expansion down the road, as the need for data storage grows.

“We do have a lot of flat open space there, which makes it a great site for continued growth,” he said. “When we invest a lot of energy in finding the next Google data center campus, we want this to be something we can count on for a long time.”

Reach Brendan Kearney at 937-5906.