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Wisconsin DNR sets hearing on Foxconn water diversion

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — The public will get a chance to sound off in March about Racine officials’ request to pull 7 million gallons of water a day from Lake Michigan to serve the massive plant Foxconn Technology is building in southeast Wisconsin.

Officials at the state Department of Natural Resources announced Wednesday that they’ve scheduled a public hearing on the request for March 7 in Sturtevant. The agency also will take public comments on the request through March 21.

The Taiwanese electronics company wants to build a massive flat-screen factory in Mount Pleasant, which is about 30 miles south of Milwaukee and 60 miles north of Chicago. Racine has asked the DNR for permission to divert water from the lake to serve the plant.

Under the Great Lakes Compact, all water diverted from Lake Michigan must be returned to the lake, save for what’s lost to evaporation or what’s used in Foxconn’s manufacturing process. The city’s application estimates about 2.7 million gallons will be used each day and not returned to the lake. All wastewater would be sent to the Racine wastewater treatment plan and then the lake.

Foxconn has struggled with pollution troubles in China.

The permit Foxconn is not out of the question. Waukesha, a city of about 72,000 people, won approval in 2016 to withdraw 8.2 million gallons a day from Lake Michigan. Racine withdrew an average of 16.9 million gallons a day in 2016 to serve the city as well as Sturtevant, Mount Pleasant, Elmwood Park, North Bay, Wind Point and Caledonia.

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