Series: Foxconn In Wisconsin

Wisconsin's deal with electronics manufacturing giant Foxconn has stirred up a mix of excitement and doubt. The state offered the Taiwan-based company about $3 billion in economic incentives and a waiver on a variety of environmental and other regulations to build a large LCD fabrication complex. In return, Foxconn touted the possibility of creating thousands of jobs and invigorating Wisconsin as a Midwestern tech hub. This type of manufacturing would place considerable demands on the state's natural resources, especially water, and can create significant pollution. The net effect of this deal will take years to emerge, but boosters and skeptics alike agree that a Foxconn footprint would have profound and complex implications for Wisconsin's future.
 
Wisconsin's decision to let Foxconn draw water from Lake Michigan may set a precedent for water use that resonates across the Great Lakes region and beyond.
Supporting one high-profile Great Lakes diversion and opposing another might seem contradictory, but UW-Parkside geosciences professor John Skalbeck clearly sees no tension in his positions.
The question over where the Foxconn plant will draw its water from continues. UW-Parkside geosciences professor John Skalbeck said the application process to use Lake Michigan water differs from the diversion by Waukesha.
Community members and advocacy groups opposing the bid by Foxconn and the city of Racine for Lake Michigan water are zeroing on a specific issue: The request amounts to a water utility sourcing the Great Lakes almost entirely for the use of one private company.
Cities and businesses seeking to access Great Lakes waters often emphasize how minuscule their water use would be compared to even the supply of just one of the individual lakes.
Wisconsin exports a diverse array of agricultural products around the world One high-profile item is ginseng, an herb that has been grown in parts of central Wisconsin for over a century.
Wisconsin has yet to wrap up one big conversation about how it uses Great Lakes water, and is already embarking upon another.
After months of negotiation, Gov. Scott Walker and Foxconn Chairman Terry Gou signed an incentive package contract between the company and Wisconsin.
No one knows yet for sure how much water Foxconn's planned electronics manufacturing plant in Mount Pleasant will need for its daily operations, but just getting it there will be a big job.
Building the infrastructure to serve Foxconn's proposed factory with water will be a major engineering and construction project in its own right.