Unique water plant enabling Intel’s massive expansion

Intel employees Steve Rossow, left, and Mara Howell inspect the company’s water recycling facility at its Ronler Acres campus in Hillsboro, Oregon. (Walden Kirsch / Intel Corporation)

By Ken Sain | Gilbert Sun News

Intel’s Sept. 24 groundbreaking ceremony for the $20-billion expansion of the Ocotillo campus in Chandler brought out all the top officials.

Chandler’s mayor and most of City Council were there. So were Gov. Doug Ducey and U.S. Rep Greg Stanton’s staff. Intel CEO, Patrick Gelsinger was the star attraction.

But it’s unlikely any of them would have been there until Intel overcame one key issue to doing business in the desert: Water.

It takes a lot of water to run a manufacturing plant. In addition to the potable water needed for a workforce of several thousands, Intel also needs a lot of water for its cooling towers.

“This particular expansion, the additional [water] demand for its size was actually lower than other expansions,” said John Knudson, city public works and utilities director. “And the reason for that is because their recycling capability that they’re developing through the W.A.T.R.”

W.A.T.R. (Wastewater and Treatment Recovery) is Intel’s water treatment and recycling facility and company officials said it’s truly groundbreaking. Knudson said without it, the expansion and all those thousands of jobs would likely not be coming to Chandler.

This is the second such facility Intel has built in the U.S., the first being in Oregon. Intel has had a water treatment and recycling facility on the campus before.

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