The public will get a chance to sound off in March about Racine officials' request to pull 7 million gallons of water per day from Lake Michigan to serve a massive Foxconn Technology plant.
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.
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The Taiwanese electronics company wants to build a massive flat-screen facility 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 facility.
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.
For a sense of scale, Waukesha, a city of about 72,000 people, won approval in 2016 to withdraw 8.2 million gallons per day from Lake Michigan. Racine withdrew an average of 16.9 million gallons per day in 2016 to serve the city as well as Sturtevant, Mount Pleasant, Elmwood Park, North Bay, Wind Point and Caledonia.
According to the DNR, the total surface water all states withdrew from Lake Michigan per day in 2016 was about 9.6 billion gallons. The Racine withdrawal for Foxconn would amount to 0.07 percent of that figure.
The lake contains about 1,180 cubic miles of water.