In an unprecedented betrayal of the core intent of the hard-won, bipartisan Great Lakes Compact, Gov. Scott Walker and his allies want to give away seven million gallons a day of Great Lakes water to Foxconn via the City of Racine.
The most anti-conservation, anti-environment governor in Wisconsin’s history is behind a scheme so irresponsible the states and Canadian provinces that drafted the compact didn’t even consider it possible. No one imagined a Great Lakes state would attempt it.
It wasn’t enough for Walker to hand Foxconn a check for $4.5 billion of our tax money, it wasn’t enough to allow Foxconn to trample on our wetlands – now he’s giving away our Great Lakes water.
If approved, the plan would allow the City of Racine, which sits inside the Great Lakes basin, to divert seven million gallons of water per day – that’s equivalent to 875 tanker trucks – to Mount Pleasant a township that’s only partially in the basin, known as a “straddling community.” There, Foxconn will consume 2.7 million gallons a day to manufacture flat screen TVs.
Under the compact, diversions are meant to provide water for uses such as municipal drinking water and groundwater replenishment for family wells. This is the first time a state in the compact has been so brazen as to actually suggest a diversion almost exclusively for a private company’s manufacturing needs.
The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources is taking public comment on the plan until March 21st. The DNR needs to understand what’s at risk if this plan is approved. Sign up to attend the hearing!
The Great Lakes hold 90 percent of America’s freshwater, that’s 20 percent of the world’s supply. The diversion of Great Lakes water for private industry use is an unprecedented affront to the Great Lakes Compact. Sign the statement today!
Why it matters
The passage of the Great Lakes Compact by the Wisconsin Legislature in 2008 is perhaps the state’s greatest conservation achievement in a generation. It was a multi-year, bipartisan effort that protected the Great Lakes from being depleted by commercial interests and “thirsty” states eyeing the Great Lakes as an unlimited – and unregulated – source of water. The compact codified a pledge by Wisconsin and other Great Lakes states and provinces to use Great Lakes water responsibly. The compact states:
• Only communities in the Great Lakes Basin or in “straddling” communities can request water
• Communities must employ maximum water conservation measures before requesting additional water – a diversion is a last resort
• Communities must ensure there would be as little loss (consumptive use) of the water as possible
• Water must be returned to the lake it came from
• Water must be for public use and not sold for profit or privatized
Foxconn would not have been able to get approval for the water by their own means under the conditions of the Great Lakes Compact. The Walker Administration engineered a shocking giveaway that sets a terrible precedent and opens the door to other commercial interests wishing to commodify Great Lakes water. This is the exact situation the Great Lakes Compact aims to avoid.
The pattern has become distinct in Walker’s effort to eliminate natural resource protections for industries seeking his favor. Walker has handed out tax cuts and rollbacks of environmental regulations for his pals in the sulfide mining industry, the industrial agriculture industry, the frac sand mining industry, and now his magnum opus – Foxconn.
- Wisconsin DNR, 2017: dnr.wi.gov/topic/WaterUse/Racine
- Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Jan. 29, 2018: www.jsonline.com/story/news/2018/01/29/racine-seeks-state-ok-tap-up-7-million-gallons-lake-michigan-day-foxconn-mount-pleasant/1071211001/
- City of Racine Diversion Application, 2018: dnr.wi.gov/topic/WaterUse/documents/Racine/RacineDiversionApp20180126.pdf