Former factory employee has concerns about the water Foxconn will return to Lake Michigan

Local News

A former employee of a manufacturing company that  used water from Lake Michigan says he’s concerned that the Wisconsin DNR regulations and testing on Foxconn won’t be strict enough. 

Years ago, Ed Kakes, who now takes anglers out on fishing tours in Lake Michigan, worked for a company that plated boat motor accessories.

“I have worked in an industry before where we treated metals in water, and the DNR would come and knock on our door and let us know that they’re going to be giving us a 24-hour test, at that point our company would not treat our water for the day,” Ed Kakes of Two Rivers said. “So, not saying that [Foxconn is] going to do something like that, but chances are, it might happen, we won’t know.”

Some of the water that the boat motor accessories company used was put back in Lake Michigan, but Kakes says that the water wasn’t always cleaned as well as it could have been. 

“In my opinion, it probably wasn’t treated the best it should have been treated at times,” Kakes said. “We tried our best, but at times, with how industry and how everything goes, they want you to get as many parts out as you can and sometimes you skip a few corners here and there.” 

Foxconn will be pulling 7 million gallons of water from Lake Michigan every day, and 2.7 million gallons of that water will not be returned back to the lake. 

“I would say that this whole deal just seems like it’s going awfully fast,” Kakes said. “And to me, when things go fast, people don’t take enough time to do some research, and exactly understand what it’s going to do to the environment.”

His biggest concern is that the 4.3 million gallons that Foxconn will put back into Lake Michigan every day, could still have metal particles in the water. 

“It’s a $7 billion industry, to the fishing industry here,” he said. “It has approximately 75,000 jobs, fishing jobs, that lake holds. For the 13,000 jobs that Foxconn is going to bring here, like I said before, I think there should have been some more research done. And if that has been done, I wish it would make it more public to us.”

Governor Scott Walker tweeted, “Even with this approval, the @CityofRacine’s water utility will remain below its existing withdrawal capacity & below its average in 1995.” Then added, “The @CityofRacine also must make sure the water is treated and returned to Lake Michigan.”

Governor Walker added that the City of Racine will be responsible for making sure Foxconn returns clean water to Lake Michigan. 

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