Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Foxconn will take a lot, what will Lake Michigan receive back?

As if the increasing cost of the Fox-con wasn’t enough reason to dislike that scam, we found out this week about another reason that this development has serious drawbacks. It’s because the facility will drain large amounts of water from Lake Michigan in order for it to operate.
The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources says it will decide in about 90 days on a request to pump 7 million gallons a day from Lake Michigan as part of a proposed Foxconn manufacturing complex state leaders have pushed as a major job creator.

The DNR on Monday released the Racine Water Utility’s application for an exception from a Great Lakes Compact ban on new or expanded diversions of water to places outside the Great Lakes basin….
The manufacture of LCD panels for televisions and other electronic devices requires very large amounts of water to clean each layer of circuitry as it is fabricated, because even a speck of dust can disrupt the circuit signals.

Under state law, the water would need to be treated before it is pumped back into the lakes. An average of 2.7 million gallons per day would be consumed, mostly through evaporation, the DNR said.

Is this enough "treatment"?

Because the Lake Michigan water would be pumped through Racine, the added volume still would not exceed the amount of water it can legally pump out by law, so the DNR says it would be a legal work-around under the Great Lakes Compact.

Of course, there still has to be water pipe infrastructure built out to Foxconn to pay for all of that water usage, and for over 4 million gallons to return to the lake from a plant that already is exempted from many environmental standards.

“But Jake, the water coming from Foxconn has to be treated, so the lake should be fine.” Well, that’s where I’m going to bring up a second story from yesterday.
The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources is appealing an October circuit court decision revoking eight high-capacity well permits.

The permits were issued after a 2016 opinion from state Attorney General Brad Schimel prevented the DNR from considering the total impact of proposed and existing wells on nearby waterways.

The environmental group Clean Wisconsin filed the original lawsuit and it maintains the DNR has a constitutional duty to protect state waterways and that these wells can lower the water levels of lakes and streams.

A high-capacity well can withdraw more than 100,000 gallons of water a day, according to the DNR’s website.

In the case of the eight revoked permits, the DNR had found that these wells would be harmful to local waterways before Schimel’s opinion was issued.
But of course, Foxconn’s development is after Schimel’s Koched-up opinion came out. So if Foxconn isn’t properly treating the water at its plant before sending it back to Lake Michigan, would you count on Brad Schimel’s Department of Justice or a Koch-bought Walker Administration to do much about it?

Yeah, me neither. Which is all the more reason in November to boot out Schimel and replace him with Josh Kaul, and get rid of Walker and his lackeys in the Cabinet, and restore some protections to our most needed natural resources.

Also, I encourage you to read James Rowen at the Political Environment, as he has much more (and better) analysis on the environmental side of the Fox-con.

EDIT- The Wisconsin State Journal's Phil Hands delivers again!


  1. The biggest frustration for me is that this *had* to be a known issue. There could not have been any illusion about this plant being able to draw on groundwater down that way where even residential wells are problematic at best.

    The Gov knew this was going to be part of the deal and masked it from general knowledge - in my not so humble opinion.

    1. Jeff -I thought Foxconn is going to draw
      on the lake. I didn’t hear anything about wells.

    2. I think what Jeff is saying is that Walker and Foxconn hid the fact that they would have to use all this water from the lake. And that, combined with the deregulation of environ regulations, make the Fox-con even more sleazy.

      And it makes you wonder what other "surprises" are lurking.