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Intel-Chandler co-op: One big gulp

By: Don Kirkland

Jan. 20, 2007

Ever had a glass of Chandler’s reverse osmosis water to drink? You could, but you probably wouldn’t.

The city’s RO facility near Price and Queen Creek roads, just west of the Price/101 Freeway, has churned out more than 3 billion gallons of the crystal-clear elixir since opening in 1996.

The facility’s construction was based on a need by officials at the nearby Intel semi-conductor plant, then FAB 12, to dispose of industrial wastewater in a way that not only met environmental standards but could benefit the community.

The result: a state-of-the-art, high-tech treatment facility that utilizes nano- and micro-filtration, followed by a reverse osmosis process, to remove unwanted chemicals and other potential pollutants from the water.

And while the final, treated product would be just fine for home use, city spokesman Jim Phipps says, most people have an aversion to drinking water that once had even microscopic impurities among its ingredients.

“It’s A-plus quality,” says Phipps. “It could be poured into your glass, but we don’t do that for psychological reasons.”

Instead, Phipps says, the untreated water—nearly a million gallons a day—flows through an underground pipeline from the now FAB 22 plant to the city-run facility, built with Intel dollars. There it is processed and pumped via injection wells into the surrounding aquifer.

Although Chandler residents don’t gain directly from the plant’s operation, says Phipps, the collateral benefit is huge.

Because environmental-protection laws require that cities take no more available groundwater than they put back, the treatment process gives Chandler enough replacement credits to supply almost 12,000 households with drinkable water every year.

And that, illustrate a shelf-full of state and national awards the facility has received over the years, amounts to one big gulp.

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