Foxconn, supplier water use could top out at 12 million gallons per day

Diversion application expected by February

The site Foxconn Technology Group has selected for its 20 million-square-foot campus.

Last updated on July 2nd, 2019 at 09:12 pm

Engineers planning water infrastructure upgrades to get Lake Michigan water from Racine to the Foxconn Technology Group campus in Mount Pleasant are designing improvements to accommodate 12.2 million gallons in daily demand from the company and its suppliers.

The site Foxconn Technology Group has selected for its 20 million-square-foot campus.
Credit: Curtis Waltz /

Foxconn’s daily demand would be up to 5.8 million gallons and the surrounding business park development would use up to 6.4 million gallons, according to modeling plans developed by Waukesha-based engineering firm Ruekert and Mielke.

Not included in the plans is a potential diversion for the town of Yorkville, which is also planning to seek Lake Michigan water from Racine.

The plans, dated Dec. 17, are estimates and still subject to change. They’re intended to help set the minimum water main size needed for the infrastructure upgrades to support the Foxconn plant. They were included as part of an amendment to the existing water service agreement between Racine and Mount Pleasant. The two municipalities have an agreement that calls for the sharing of certain costs for expanding facilities. The amendment would have Mount Pleasant cover costs related to the upgrades.

A more comprehensive amendment to the agreement is still being developed, but this one covers the two initial projects started this month to match up with Department of Transportation roadwork.

Those projects include a $1.97 million project along the east Frontage Road of Interstate 94 from Highway 20 to Highway 11 and a $5.35 million project to run a water main along Highway H from near the S.C. Johnson iMet Center to Highway KR.

The volume amounts are for maximum daily usage and could be reduced as Foxconn refines its plans. The company is considering implementing a zero liquid discharge system on its campus that would also greatly decrease the demand for water.

The request for proposal that Foxconn sent to Wisconsin at the start of negotiations last summer indicated the company would need 8.7 million gallons of water per day. That amount was for a smaller project that called for a $6.1 billion investment. Some critics have suggested the Foxconn plant would use upwards of 15 million gallons per day.

For comparison, the city of Waukesha was approved to divert an average of 8.2 million gallons of Lake Michigan water per day, a reduction for its original request. The city had originally sought to divert an average of 10.1 million gallons with a maximum of 16.7 million.

The Ruekert and Mielke plans for Foxconn also show a potential new wrinkle in Racine’s anticipated application to divert Lake Michigan water outside of the Great Lakes basin. The 2008 Great Lakes water compact bans diversions outside of the basin, but makes some exceptions. Mount Pleasant is considered a straddling community because parts of it are in the basin. As a result, the compact requires the state Department of Natural Resources to approve any diversion. A diversion application is expected to be submitted by the end of the month and a DNR spokesman has said the agency will need at least 90 days to review it.

But the Ruekert and Mielke plans show the Foxconn campus itself will straddle the subcontinental divide between the Great Lakes and Mississippi River basins.

The Highway H water main will supply a planned large concrete batch plant just east of the Foxconn campus and because it is within the Great Lakes basin, Racine can supply water to it without needing diversion approvals.

The first facility that Foxconn plans to build – a more than 1.5 million-square-foot building dedicated to assembly operations – is also located on the eastern end of the campus. Racine would likely be able to supply water to that facility without the diversion as well.

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Arthur covers banking and finance and the economy at BizTimes while also leading special projects as an associate editor. He also spent five years covering manufacturing at BizTimes. He previously was managing editor at The Waukesha Freeman. He is a graduate of Carroll University and did graduate coursework at Marquette. A native of southeastern Wisconsin, he is also a nationally certified gymnastics judge and enjoys golf on the weekends.

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