Water shortages loom over future semiconductor fabs in Arizona

In an aerial view. an empty water trough in the desert that has been recently visited by wild burros is seen on July 7, 2021 near Yucca, Arizona. Large portions of the West are now classified as being in exceptional drought, the most extreme drought category.  | Photo by David McNew/Getty Images

Major semiconductor manufacturers looking to expand in Arizona will likely be spared from water cuts induced by an unprecedented water shortage in the Southwest, at least for now. As part of the scramble to end a shortage of another kind — the global dearth in semiconductor chips — both Intel and TSMC plan to open new facilities in Arizona. But they’re setting up shop just as one of the worst droughts in decades grows worse across the Western US.

Federal authorities officially declared a shortage on the Colorado River for the first time ever this week, which will trigger water cuts in several states and Mexico starting January 1st, 2022. The shortage is at the Hoover Dam’s Lake Mead, the largest reservoir in the US and a huge source of…

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