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MADISON – The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) announced Wednesday that it has approved the City of Racine’s request to divert an annual average of seven million gallons a day of water from Lake Michigan for its Mount Pleasant customers, most of which would be used for Foxconn.
According to a press release from the DNR, the total surface water withdrawn from Lake Michigan from all states in 2016 was 9.6 billion gallons per day and the approval would only amount to about an 0.07% increase in total water withdrawals from the lake, leaving the Racine water utility under its existing withdrawal capacity.
The village of Mount Pleasant straddles the divide between the Lake Michigan and Mississippi River basins and is regulated under the 2008 Great Lakes Compact, which allows communities along the basin to divert water. The 8% of Mount Pleasant that is located in Mississippi River basin includes part of the Foxconn site, although the DNR labels the proposed diversion for “public water supply purposes,” as Racine’s public water system will continue to serve residential customers as well.
As part of the approval, the city of Racine must ensure that the water is returned to the lake minus consumptive use, such as evaporation. The water returned also will be treated at the Racine Wastewater Treatment Plant to meet all state and federal water quality discharge standards. Any industrial customers, including Foxconn, will work with the city to meet pretreatment requirements for wastewater.

After receiving the application in January, the DNR invited the public to provide comments on the application, and received public testimony at a hearing in early March in Sturtevant. The department has taken the comments under consideration in issuing the approval and drafted a comment and response document available by searching the DNR website, dnr.wi.gov for keywords “Racine diversion.”

“We received approximately 800 comments on the application, which shows the public’s strong interest in this topic,” said Adam Freihoefer, Water Use Section Chief for the Bureau of Drinking Water and Groundwater.

More information about the Great Lakes Compact is also available at dnr.wi.gov.

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