Water is essential to the semiconductor manufacturing process. We use ultrapure water to remove impurities from our silicon wafers, and we use industrial and reclaimed water to run our manufacturing facility systems. Over the last two decades, our sustainable water management efforts and partnerships have enabled us to conserve billions of gallons of water and return approximately 80% of our water back to our communities. Now, we are broadening our focus to restore 100% of our global water use by 2025.
We’ll achieve this ambitious goal by funding collaborative projects to support local watersheds that restore water in quantities equivalent to the water we consume. We are engaging environmental organizations to identify and implement projects that provide long-term benefits to the water environment. These projects, whether agriculture-centered, conservation-focused, or IoT-based, aim to address local water issues and support the well-being of our communities, economy, and the environment.
To date, Intel has funded projects benefitting Arizona, California, New Mexico, and Oregon watersheds. Work to implement these projects is underway and based on the anticipated volumetric benefits upon completion, we have achieved approximately 31% of our global goal. Our current restoration projects are below.
Location: Willamette River, Oregon
Implementation Partner: Greenbelt Land Trust
Estimated Restoration Benefit1: 41 million gallons/year (MGY)
Project Description: Horseshoe Lake is an historic oxbow located on the east bank of the Willamette River. This oxbow is located on a floodplain that supports wetlands, prairie, and riparian forests that are permanently protected through conservation easements and managed by the Greenbelt Land Trust. Due to a perched culvert that blocks river flow from accessing the site, the oxbow is disconnected from the nearby Willamette River except during peak flow periods. This project aims to restore flow exchange between the Willamette River and the oxbow during the critical winter rearing period to provide habitat for Endangered Species Act-listed salmonids. Additional benefits of this project include habitat for other fish and wildlife species in other seasons besides winter, flood attenuation, and restored floodplain function.
Location: Tualatin River, Oregon
Implementation Partner: Clean Water Institute
Estimated Restoration Benefit: 89 million gallons/year (MGY)
Project Description: Wapato Lake is an historic lake and wetland area that has been actively managed for decades using levees and pumps to drain winter runoff from the site thereby making the land amendable for farming. The lake bed area is now owned by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFS) and managed as the Wapato Lake National Wildlife Refuge. Water level management in Wapato Lake benefits wildlife by providing aquatic and wetland habitat for a variety of wintering waterfowl and migratory bird species. A water quality management plan for the Wapato Lake area requires any major pumping from the lake to be completed by May 1 of each year to prevent adverse impacts on the Tualatin River. To ensure that Wapato Lake releases are timed properly, the project will replace the existing unreliable infrastructure.
Location: Rio Grande Watershed in Colorado (Upper Rio Grande) and New Mexico (Mainstem Rio Grande and Comanche Creek)
Implementation Partner: Trout Unlimited, National Forest Foundation
Estimated Restoration Benefit: 109 million gallons/year (MGY)
Project Description: The Upper Rio Grande and its tributaries support farming, ranching, rural communities, and a renowned trout fishery. During winter, water retained in headwater reservoirs contributes to reduced flows that impact fish and wildlife needs. In the Valle Vidal Unit of the Carson National Forest, past grazing, mining, and logging have degraded Comanche Creek, adversely affecting the channel and disconnecting the creek from its historic floodplain. This conservation project will leverage a Trout Unlimited program to increase winter flow releases from three reservoirs to maximize rearing and spawning benefits for fish, as well as conduct instream and bank restoration activities to reconnect Comanche Creek to the historic floodplain and wetlands, restoring hydrologic function and natural water storage capacity, and recreation and wildlife benefits.
Location: Central Valley, California
Implementation Partner: The Nature Conservancy (TNC)
Estimated Restoration Benefit: 47 million gallons/year (MGY)
Project Description: The expansive wetlands of the Central Valley once provided critical habitat for migratory birds traveling the Pacific Flyway that extends from Alaska to South America. While California still supports some of the world’s largest concentrations of wintering waterfowl and shorebirds, more than 95 percent of California’s wetlands have been drained for development and agricultural production, and bird populations are in significant decline. Water tables are falling due to loss of critical recharge areas and pumping that exceeds renewable supply. The Nature Conservancy is working with farmers to ensure that agricultural fields are being managed for habitat and groundwater replenishment, as well as food production.
Location: Main stem of Colorado River near Thompson, Utah (to benefit Arizona’s water supply)
Implementation Partner: Trout Unlimited
Estimated Restoration Benefit: 142 MGY
Project Description: MIR is an organic cattle ranch operating on roughly 125,000 acres of land. The owners preserve and enhance critical wildlife habitat on the property. Water was historically diverted from the Colorado River to irrigate alfalfa and support other agricultural operations. This system conservation project will leave water in the Colorado River that was previously withdrawn by converting alfalfa to cool season, low water use grasses and improving irrigation efficiency.
Location: Lower San Pedro River, Gila River Basin, Arizona (to benefit Arizona’s water supply)
Implementation Partner: Arizona Land and Water Trust (ALWT); Desert Rivers Program
Estimated Restoration Benefit: 62 MGY
Project Description: The San Pedro River provides critical habitat for migratory birds and other wildlife. Groundwater pumping for irrigation and other purposes has contributed to extremely low flows and intermittent dry periods, threatening the health of the riparian ecosystem. The agricultural fields were historically leased for growing cotton and wheat, when the fields were flood irrigated from two wells located less than a mile from the river. This project includes conversion to drought-tolerant native grasses that do not require sustained irrigation, and then leased for grazing.
Location: Camp Verde, Verde River Watershed, Arizona (to benefit Arizona’s water supply)
Implementation Partner: The Nature Conservancy (TNC)
Estimated Restoration Benefit: 60 MGY
Project Description: The Verde River is a water source for Phoenix and a lifeline for wildlife in the American Southwest, including migratory birds, nesting bald eagles, rare species of reptiles and amphibians, and many species of native fish. But like many western rivers, streamflow is low or nonexistent in some areas during the hot summer months when water is diverted to irrigate crops. Traditional summer crops grown in the Verde River Valley such as alfalfa and corn, have the largest water requirements in the summer. In contrast, barley is harvested before the critical summer water stress period. A seasonal shift in crop production, such as switching from alfalfa and corn to malt barley has the potential to improve summer river flows. The outcomes of this project would result in more water in the river for people and wildlife, and a profitable crop for local farmers.
Location: Tualatin River Basin, Oregon (to benefit Oregon’s water supply)
Implementation Partner: Vanasche Farm
Estimated Restoration Benefit: To be determined during pilot
Project Description: Intel is partnering with a local hazelnut farmer to pilot real-time, remote monitoring of soil moisture and local weather. The Internet of Things (IoT) system allows the farmer to determine the precise soil moisture and weather at specific locations within their fields. This application is designed to increase irrigation efficiency by watering only when necessary and increase the farmer’s ability to determine precipitation or other important weather patterns at their fields. The data provided by this application is intended to save water as well as benefit the farmer by informing the optimum time to plant crops.
Location: Verde River Watershed, Coconino National Forest, Arizona (to benefit Arizona’s water supply)
Implementation Partner: National Forest Foundation (NFF)
Estimated Restoration Benefit: 20 MGY
Project Description: Long Valley Meadow is a high elevation meadow that provides water filtration, water storage, and habitat along the Mogollon Rim in the Coconino National Forest. Healthy, functioning headwater meadows store precipitation, releasing it slowly. Their role in retaining and releasing water makes meadows critically important for the hydrology of headwater streams as well as for fish and wildlife habitat, and recreation. The Long Valley Meadow site has been degraded as a result of historic land and forest management practices, which have caused severely incised channels with actively expanding bank erosion. This project will restore 42 acres of headwater meadows by using a Plug and Pond technique that diverts flow out of incised channels and into the meadow, restoring the floodplain connection and allowing water to infiltrate into groundwater. The project will reconnect the channel to the meadow thereby increasing the soil’s storage capacity and keeping the soil wet for a longer duration in spring and summer.