Foxconn pledges good environmental practice ahead of hearing

STURTEVANT, Wis. - Foxconn Technology Group says it is committed to good environmental practices ahead of a public hearing on Racine officials' request to draw 7 million gallons of water daily from Lake Michigan for a proposed Foxconn plant.

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources has scheduled a hearing on the request Wednesday in Sturtevant. The company says approval of the city of Racine's request is key to setting up its infrastructure.

The Taiwanese electronics company wants to build a massive flat-screen facility in Mount Pleasant, about 30 miles (48 kilometers) south of Milwaukee and 60 miles (97 kilometers) north of Chicago.
Under the Great Lakes Compact, all water diverted from Lake Michigan must be returned minus what's lost to evaporation or what's used for Foxconn's manufacturing process. The city's application estimates about 2.7 million gallons per day will be consumed and wouldn't return to the lake. All wastewater would return to the Racine wastewater treatment plan and then the lake. Foxconn has struggled with pollution problems in China.

In a statement Wednesday, Foxconn said the company is committed to complying with all rules and regulations and "to being a responsible corporate citizen."

But environmental groups and residents question whether the proposal meets requirements of the Great Lakes Compact, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported. Environmentalists say a major point is whether Racine's request to divert water meets the test for public use because it will be piped to a factory.

"It should be for a public water supply and not a narrow private water use," said Ezra Meyer of Clean Wisconsin, an environmental group.

Adam Freihoefer, the DNR's chief of water use, said his agency is reviewing state law and compact language to see if Foxconn would constitute a private use of water.

The DNR plays an oversight role because Mount Pleasant is situated in both the Lake Michigan and Mississippi River basins, straddling both watersheds. The agency expects to make a decision on the proposed diversion by early May.

The $10 billion manufacturing center could employ up to 13,000 workers.

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