Foxconn Uses Loophole To Drain 7 Million Gallons Of Water Per Day From Lake Michigan

Taiwanese tech manufacturer Foxconn will siphon seven million gallons of water per day from Lake Michigan after their upcoming Mount Pleasant, Wisconsin plant was granted approval by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.

The $10 billion, 20 million square foot facility expected to provide around 13,000 jobs will use around 61% of the siphoned water to manufacture LCD screens, while around 2.7 million gallons will be lost in the process each day, due primarily to evaporation. The remaining water will be treated and returned to the lake.

While that may sound like a lot of water, Wisconsin's DNR notes that the Foxconn plant will "only amount to a 0.07 percent increase in the total surface water withdrawals from Lake Michigan," however as Gizmodo notes, "For environmentalists in the region, the issue is not so much the diversion for the Foxconn factory itself but rather the precedent it will set for how the lake water can be used."

If we allow this to happen, it’s going to happen all over the basin, with other states and then it’s going to be the thirsty states and nations to come,” Jennifer Giegerich, the government affairs director for the Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters, warned during a public hearing about the diversion, according to the Wisconsin Gazette. -Gizmodo

Approximately 20% of the world's fresh water can be found in the Great Lakes, which has historically been used for public purposes such as water utilities and drinking water - and protected by the 2008 Great Lakes Compact agreement intended to preserve the resource. 

The agreement states “In general, there is a ban on new diversions of water from the Basin but limited exceptions could be allowed in communities near the Basin when rigorous standards are met.

Exceptions to the compact can be granted if permission is received from all eight governors of states which surround the great lakes

Foxconn, however, did not receive permission for the water draw - instead using a loophole which allowed the nearby town of Racine, which falls inside the Great Lakes Basin, to request the additional water and pipe it to the Foxconn factory in Mount Pleasant - a city served by the Racine water utility. 

The request from Racine was allowed because water utility serves a small percentage of residents in Mount Pleasant. That allowed the DNR to say the diversion qualified as being used for “public water supply purposes” and would not require the type of stringent review applied to other cases. The DNR did acknowledge that the diversion would “partially” include the Foxconn facility. -Gizmodo

This loophole has angered environmentalists, which executive director of the Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters, Kerry Schulmann, says is "a thinly veiled attempt to degrade the Great Lakes Compact, one of the finest conservation achievements in a generation." 

Meanwhile, the Compact Implementation Coalition - organized to ensure that the Great Lakes Compact is adhered to, slammed the decision. “The CIC feels it is unfortunate that DNR is ignoring not only the spirit, intent and plain language of the Great Lakes Compact, but also the voiced concerns of thousands of Wisconsin citizens,” said the group in a statement

Several conservation groups plan to challenge the DNR's decision and try to hold them - and Foxconn, accountable. As Gizmodo's AJ Dellinger notes, however, they have their work cut out for them. "Prior to the water diversion, the DNR also granted Foxconn permits that will allow the company to pump harmful pollutants into the air," writes Dellinger.

While Foxconn has yet to break ground on the planned fabrication plant, they just took posession of the property. Republican governor Scott Walker was able to secure Foxconn's business by handing them $3 billion in tax credits.


DavidFL Sun, 04/29/2018 - 19:54 Permalink

$3 Billion in tax CREDITS spread over PEAK employment of 13,000 - is a high price to pay. Not sure the terms of this deal would hold up in a commercial environment. Only a government smuck would have taken this one. (Not to mention the water issue)!

FireBrander DavidFL Sun, 04/29/2018 - 19:59 Permalink

I would image the biggest credit is some type of property tax break.

Can you imagine the tax bill for a $10 Billion, 21 million sqft facility to build tv's? 

Holy shit, every tv that rolled out of thier would cost 3X what a chinese tv costs.

The gov won't get the property tax money eitherway; better off with manufacturing plant.

In reply to by DavidFL

J S Bach FireBrander Sun, 04/29/2018 - 20:01 Permalink

Ummm... I guess I'm a little naive.  How in the hell does it require 7 million gallons of water per day to make LCD screens?

Is the "liquid" in "liquid crystal diode" water?  (I know it's not... I'm just playing dumb to get an answer.) 🤔

In reply to by FireBrander

thisandthat itstippy Mon, 04/30/2018 - 20:28 Permalink

"Asian.  No Jews"

Just off the bat: kaifeng jews...

"During the Ming Dynasty (1368–1644), a Ming emperor conferred eight surnames upon the Jews, by which they are identifiable today: Ai, Shi, Gao, Gan, Jin, Li, Zhang, and Zhao. By the beginning of the 20th century one of these Kaifeng clans, the Zhang, had largely converted to Islam."

That's like saying: "Asian. No Masons". Yet, you couldn't be more wrong there, either.

In reply to by itstippy

ElTerco J S Bach Sun, 04/29/2018 - 20:13 Permalink

Guess we will "promote" the USA to China's environmental standards. Do you really think it requires seven million gallons of water per day to produce a few thousand LCD screens? Is there zero efficiency in the way they use water? Seems like they could cut their usage by at least a factor of twenty with not much effort.

In reply to by J S Bach

roddy6667 ElTerco Sun, 04/29/2018 - 23:41 Permalink

Back in the Seventies I worked as a water well driller for a while. One job was two weeks in Essex Junction, VT at the IBM chip factory. It used so much water that it dropped the water level in the surrounding area 100 feet. Many homes had drilled wells that went dry. Yes, electronics manufacturing requires massive amounts of water. You should Google it before making comments.

In reply to by ElTerco

DavidFL FireBrander Sun, 04/29/2018 - 20:11 Permalink

Dont forget the pay will be on a par with China wages - don't think for one second the manufacturing done in this plant will will absorb a higher wage structure than the slave wages currently paid in Chinese plants. Slave Wages American Style (SWAS) - it's phase 2 of the MAGA program!

In reply to by FireBrander

roddy6667 DavidFL Sun, 04/29/2018 - 23:45 Permalink

If two people in one household in China are making what a Foxconn worker does, they are solidly blue collar and better off than millions of American working poor. It is not slave labor. It is ignorant to look at their pay in American dollars. Do you think that on payday they get on a plane to JFK or LAX to spend it in America? NO. You have to look at what it buys them where they live. It is not a bad job there.

In reply to by DavidFL

Juggernaut x2 Sun, 04/29/2018 - 19:56 Permalink

Walker is a fucking retard. WI is a pretty heavily taxed state as it is and he just hands out the money to these assholes. I am assuming Paul Ryan's family's excavating company will get a big chunk of the dirt work.

HenryHall TuPhat Sun, 04/29/2018 - 22:06 Permalink

$3billion in tax credits for 13,000 jobs means the state is paying a quarter million dollars to create each job. Those jobs better be really high paid so the workers can pay enough tax to repay the state a cool quarter million bucks each!

Either that or it is a swindle to divert public money into cronies' pockets.

In reply to by TuPhat

Curiously_Crazy HenryHall Sun, 04/29/2018 - 22:21 Permalink

The state isn't "paying" anything.

A tax credit is just that - for the sake of the argument assume 4 billion in taxes will be paid over x years, then there is still net positive of 1 billion. Or in other words, as soon as the 3 billion in credits is expired you'll be getting taxes paid towards the coughers instead of the zero you would have had before. Not to mention the employment opportunities.

In reply to by HenryHall