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Companies unite to conserve water

March 12, 2009 7:10:53 PM PDT
The water crisis in California is creating a friendly corporate competition in the Bay Area. Companies are trying to conserve as much water as they can.

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Looking out on Applied Materials Sunnyvale campus, you can see an enormous new solar system saving energy, but what you don't see are cutting edge efforts to save another precious resource: water.

The company made changes to save 10.5 million gallons of water a year in this technology center alone. The leader in semiconductor equipment and technology consolidated its tools and adjusted critical settings.

"And then we made some simple software changes so that when tools were in idle mode they were not going to be running water continuous and we saved millions of gallons of water," said Applied Materials Senior Director Bruce Klafter.

Peter Drekmeier is part of a team reviewing various impressive water saving efforts. With California in the third year of a drought, a coalition of organizations launched the first ever Silicon Valley Water Conservation Awards.

There are 50 applications in six categories ranging from individual to company to government agency.

"We're looking at innovation, and we're looking at programs that can be replicated by others because we're all in this together and everyone needs to do what they can to conserve water," said Drekmeier.

Some of what Applied is doing is simple. There's drought resistant landscaping, drip irrigation and sensor activated faucets. In all the company says it's saving 51 million gallons of water a year off its 2006 water use levels.

"It's really one of the engines for our economy and in many ways it's going to be very critical in the future so we want to do our part," said Klafter.

In the South Bay, the company is conserving about 16 percent a year, but will have to wait to find out if it's an award winner.

The Silicon Valley Water Conservation Awards will be presented on March 23rd in conjunction with World Water Day.

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