It’s an important and creative “win-win” for Albuquerque, Rio Rancho and New Mexico.
The Albuquerque Bernalillo County Water Utility Authority has approved a $1 million expense to design a project to deliver up to 3 million gallons of water a day to the Intel chip manufacturing plant in Rio Rancho, where it will support the tech company’s $3.5 billion upgrade that includes creating 700 new, high-paying permanent jobs over the next three years, along with 1,000 construction jobs.
It’s the largest such commitment to Intel’s New Mexico operations since at least 2009, and according to Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham will establish the Intel campus as a key domestic hub for advanced semiconductor manufacturing. The company says the upgrade will focus on its new “Foveros” technology, based on stacking computing chips to create a three-dimensional compact package for super-fast computation that uses much less space.
Back to water. This is the arid Southwest; water is a prized commodity. And that’s a big part of why this is a win-win.
Mark Sanchez, ABCWUA’s executive director, says the water will come from two wells never used for drinking water because of high arsenic content. The authority will pump it to Intel, which will treat and return about 2.4 million of the 3 million gallons a day into the utility’s wastewater system to offset the increased groundwater pumping.
“At that point it’s no longer arsenic water or has any other contaminants,” Sanchez says. “I think there’s clearly an advantage for the water authority to provide this service and not force Intel to go into the market and acquire traditional water rights.” Indeed, because then they compete with farmers and others. Plus, Intel will reimburse the $1 million and pay for other required infrastructure.
So Water Authority ratepayers are held harmless, Intel’s Rio Rancho campus is more secure in a competitive high-tech world, more New Mexicans have good jobs and we will take arsenic-laced water from wells and return pristine water to the Rio Grande. What’s not to like about all that?
Kudos to all in this environmentally friendly solution.