Restoring Boise river means big things for global sustainability

Micron Technology | March 2022

As Micron commemorates World Water Day, I’m particularly excited about a water restoration project near Micron’s U.S. headquarters in Boise, Idaho. I know how important the Boise River is to our town, and I’m thrilled to be the project lead.

But the Boise project has much bigger implications. It’s a pilot for the kind of water restoration project that Micron plans to bring to all of its major fabrication sites around the globe, improving the communities where Micron employees (called team members) live and work. As such, the Boise project represents an important first step toward reaching one of Micron’s water sustainability goals, one that previously seemed more aspirational than realistic.

For someone like me who cares deeply about environmental sustainability, that’s thrilling.

Water sustainability efforts around the globe

Before I talk about the Boise project, here’s a little background on Micron’s water use and conservation efforts. Manufacturing semiconductors on silicon wafers requires water. Lots of it. Each wafer must be washed several times with ultrapure water that comes from a combination of water we recycle on-site and local, untreated sources.

Restoration: a big-picture approach

Water restoration projects — Boise’s included — are different from facility improvements. Restoration projects benefit the communities where we operate by improving the water quality and ecosystem for the humans and animals who live there.

Restoration projects often reflect Micron values. We are working with local partners to support water quality and availability as we drive toward our aspiration of 100% water recycling, reuse and restoration. By improving water sources, we’re collaborating with local governments, interest groups and citizens as stakeholders. Water restoration is about upholding our value in people and our commitment to sustainability within and beyond our facilities.

Restoring the Boise River

Micron’s headquarters in Boise are located near the Boise River. Within view of the pumphouse that supplies water to Micron’s primary technology development fab lies Boise State University’s Intermountain Bird Observatory (IBO) and Diane Moore Nature Center. We are working with partners to restore a small side channel that runs parallel to the main river but has filled in with sediment.

Water flows more slowly in side channels, giving fish and other wildlife access to food, shelter and rest. Once restored, this side channel will provide clean, cold water that meets the higher dissolved oxygen needs of trout spawn and juveniles.

Even better, once the restoration is complete, this beautiful stretch of river will become accessible to the public. The IBO will host STEM events as well as offer young students a chance to hold birds that are being tagged and released. How cool is that?

Just the start

The side channel will improve the quality of nearly 11 million cubic meters of water every year — equivalent to about 21% of Micron’s global water use. That’s a significant step, but there are two bigger takeaways for Micron team members as they reflect on World Water Day:

  • Starting with the Boise River project, Micron has a direct path and plans in motion to reach its ambitious goal of 100% water conservation.
  • We plan to fund water restoration projects near every major fab site in the world. I can’t wait to share about some of the projects we have under evaluation in our global communities!

That’s real commitment. And it does not lessen our commitment to also addressing water use in our facilities, where we will continue innovating and investing as we strive for 75% water reuse, recycling and restoration by 2030 and our aspirational goal of 100% water conservation. These projects complement that focus with efforts that will improve life for all stakeholders, including team members, communities, ecosystems, and yes, even baby trout.