Intel treats some 2 million gallons of industrial water a day at its plants in Chandler, Ariz., then returns the water to an underground aquifer, Bloomberg reports.
The semiconductor maker, which is the city’s largest employer, recycles some 60 percent of its water. It’s also expanding the treatment facilities and upping the amount it reuses as it builds a $5 billion plant that will make more efficient computer chips, according to the news agency.
Intel’s Chandler plants use 9 million gallons of water a day. Five million gallons of this is reused or reclaimed water, Bloomberg says.
The dry desert community only receives 9 inches of rainfall on average per year. By replenishing the aquifer, Intel makes more water available for energy and electricity as well as drinking water for the Phoenix area, currently experiencing the worst 14-year drought in 100 years.
On June 30, Phoenix set a single-day water-use record with 420 million gallons, Bloomberg reports.
The drought has prompted the US Bureau of Reclamation to announce plans to cut water released from Lake Powell to Lake Mead — Las Vegas’s main water source — 9.1 percent over the next year, according to the news agency. This increases the potential for water shortages in Arizona and Nevada, and means less hydroelectric power will likely be generated at Glen Canyon Dam in Lake Powell and the Hoover Dam at Lake Mead.
In other water sustainability efforts, Coca-Cola has partnered with the United States Department of Agriculture to return more than 1 billion liters of water to the National Forest System. The company has set a goal to replenish 100 percent of the water used in its beverages and their production by 2020. As part of that goal, Coca-Cola committed in June to improving water efficiency in its manufacturing operations by 25 percent by 2020 compared with its 2010 baseline.
A report published earlier this month said Colorado needs “aggressive” state-wide targets for reductions in municipal and industrial water use if it is to solve its water scarcity challenges and keep its economy growing. The report by the Colorado chapter of business group Environmental Entrepreneurs recommends reducing per capita municipal and industrial water use by 25 percent by 2025 and 50 percent by 2050, compared to 2010 levels.