Front Line: Water Supply Increasingly Affecting Location Decisions

1 Jun 2023


Abundant access to water, for manufacturing and other purposes, has long ranked near the top of companies’ site selection criteria — especially in drought-prone regions. Recent weather and climate trends have made it even more of a vital concern. Industries that withdraw large volumes of groundwater include manufacturing, mining, oil and gas, energy generation, engineering, and construction. Those withdrawals sometimes deplete local, public water supplies.

Water consumption was a major concern when Nevada officials assembled a $1.4 billion incentive package to entice Tesla to build its 1.9-million-square-foot (and growing) “gigafactory,” about 12 miles east of Reno. The Tahoe Reno Industrial Center, where the massive plant and several other large corporate facilities are located, has been serving tenants from groundwater wells. It also holds water rights for the nearby Truckee River, with rights being restricted during drought periods. Officials negotiated a solution in which the cities of Reno and Sparks agreed to transfer 4,000 acre-feet per year of treated wastewater to the complex.

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