Naked City

AMD Plans to Move Over Edwards Aquifer

Once upon a time there was an aquifer named Ed. Ed was a happy aquifer, except that every few months or so, a large, ugly battle would rage forth in Austin-land over whether building a large, impervious structure atop poor Ed was really such a good idea. These battles invariably generated great histrionics and ill will toward the entity on the paving side of the equation.

Perhaps you have heard this story. Apparently, the folks who run Advanced Micro Devices haven't. (Or, maybe the thought of annoying every enviro in town really doesn't bother them that much.) According to In Fact Daily, AMD intends to announce today (Thursday) that they are going ahead with plans to consolidate the company's 12 Austin offices into a single, 2,000-employee campus over the Edwards Aquifer.

Cue outrage.

"If AMD relocates 2,000 employees to the Barton Springs Watershed, it will be a disaster for decades to come," said Colin Clark of the Save Our Springs Alliance. In addition to the pollution from the headquarters itself and from commuting employees' cars, folks usually like to live near work. So, by moving to the southwest, AMD could single-handedly create a market for a big ol' subdivision's worth of sprawl over the aquifer. (To put it in perspective, Circle C Ranch, which is generally considered huge, has about 2,700 houses.)

AMD's global community affairs director, Allyson Peerman, acknowledged to In Fact Daily that environmental group pressure pushed AMD to make a location decision sooner than they had originally planned, which was after the City Council elections. (The Chronicle was unable to interview AMD officials before press time.)

In the past, major employers have pretty much stayed off the aquifer. Motorola and CSC considered the southwest, but eventually opted to move elsewhere (the latter received city incentives to move downtown); Dell, Sematech, IBM, and others have simply chosen nonaquifer locations without much hullabaloo.

Having chosen an aquifer site, AMD now faces considerable hullabaloo, starting with a protest outside AMD's East Oltorf facility on Wednesday. Clark of SOS says that's just the beginning. "We plan to increase our efforts to get them to change their minds, and to respect our community by staying in the desired development zone," he said.

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