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Intel plant replenishes water supply in Chandler

PHOENIX -- Intel is the world's largest semiconductor maker, and its Chandler plant not only employs thousands of people in the area, it also provides water to the city, according to Bloomberg News.

Each day, 2 million gallons of industrial wastewater -- enough to fill at least 30,000 bathtubs -- are piped from Intel plants in Chandler, Arizona, to a facility a mile away where it's treated, then returned to an underground aquifer. Intel, the city's largest employer, recycles about 60 percent of its water and is expanding the treatment facilities and increasing the amount it reuses as the company finishes a $5 billion plant that will build more efficient computer chips.

For most manufacturers, the leftover effluent or concentrated dissolved salts that result from making chips often ends up in a sewer. Intel cleans its supply to drinking-quality standards and helps replenish groundwater beneath the city 25 miles (40 kilometers) east of Phoenix.

Intel's Chandler operations use 9 million gallons of water daily. The company takes the tap water, purifies it and then uses it to rinse off the wafers it produces.

More than 5 billion total gallons of water have been sent from Intel's plant to the aquifer at the water-treatment facility operated by the city. Bloomberg reports the facility costs $2.4 million a year to operate.

The company is spending more than $200 million to upgrade and expand the reverse-osmosis and water-reclamation facilities to handle more manufacturing at the plant. Intel and the city plan to increase the water recovery rate at the facilities to 90 percent.

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