Foxconn cutting down plans for water use

Foxconn has pledged to spend $30 million on a water recycling system at its Mount Pleasant facility that would significantly cut down water use.

The zero liquid discharge system would reduce water intake at the manufacturing plant from an estimated 6 million gallons per day to 2.5 million gallons per day, according to a release from the company.

This comes after environmental groups recently challenged the Department of Natural Resources’ decision to allow Racine to divert up to 7 million gallons of water per day from Lake Michigan for Foxconn and surrounding development.

The ZLD system would distill wastewater that comes from the process of manufacturing LCD screens, so it can be reintroduced into the production system and reused. Domestic wastewater and water that evaporates from cooling systems won’t be recycled.

In the system, industrial liquid waste would be pre-treated and evaporated, to turn the dissolved solids in the mixture into crystals. The crystallized waste is then removed, and evaporated water is condensed and reintroduced.

Foxconn says the system will keep practically all manufacturing process wastewater from going back into Lake Michigan. It’s expected to be up and running by the time the manufacturing plant is built.

“One of the reasons we chose to locate in Wisconsin is the state’s pristine environment, and we take our responsibility to preserve it seriously,” said Louis Woo, special assistant to Terry Gou, Foxconn founder and CEO. “We not only seek to comply with all regulations where we do business, we also work to exceed them when possible.”

Foxconn says the system has been successfully implemented at the company’s facility in Sakai, Japan, where it reduces both pollution and the amount of water intake that’s needed.

Dan Ellsworth, president of the statewide Wisconsin Water Alliance, says this move “proves that manufacturing job growth and a clean environment can go hand in hand.”

Racine County Executive Jonathan Delagrave says “Foxconn is going the extra mile to make costly adjustments to its facility that will protect — at an even higher level than before — our greatest local resource, Lake Michigan.”

–By Alex Moe