Midwest Environmental Advocates is a nonprofit environmental law center that works for healthy water, air, land and government for this generation and the next. We believe that every citizen has the potential to make a difference.

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Home » Issues & Actions » Actions » City of Racine Diversion Challenge

City of Racine Diversion Challenge

— MEA challenge of DNR approval of City of Racine‚Äôs Great Lakes Diversion on behalf of League of Women Voters of Wisconsin, Milwaukee Riverkeeper, Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy, and River Alliance of Wisconsin.

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This page is up to date as of June 14, 2018.

On Friday, May 25, 2018, MEA filed a petition challenging the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources’ (DNR) April 25, 2018 approval of the City of Racine’s request to divert 7 million gallons per day (MGD) of Great Lakes water. MEA is representing four partner organizations in the challenge: League of Women Voters of Wisconsin, Milwaukee Riverkeeper, Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy, and River Alliance of Wisconsin.

More information is available on the DNR’s Racine Diversion page, and in the Resources section at the bottom of this page.

Case Summary

On April 25, 2018 DNR approved the City of Racine’s proposal to transfer 7 million gallons per day (mgd) of water from Lake Michigan to an area outside the Great Lakes Basin. The greatest majority of the 7 mgd of water will be used to supply Lake Michigan water to one single private industrial customer, Foxconn, in the amount of 5.8 mgd, with the remaining 1.2 mgd used to supply water to industrial and commercial facilities surrounding the Foxconn facilities.

The City of Racine’s diversion is just the third diversion that’s been approved since the 2008 enactment of the Great Lakes–St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Compact (“Great Lakes Compact” or “Compact”). The Great Lakes Compact is a historic agreement entered into by the eight Great Lakes states and enacted into federal law. A centerpiece of the Compact is its Ban on Diversions, reflecting the region’s determination to prohibit the transfer of Great Lakes water outside the basin unless a diversion request can meet narrowly defined exceptions outlined in the provisions and definitions of the Compact.

Wisconsin DNR’s approval of the City of Racine’s diversion disregards and unreasonably interprets a core Compact requirement that all water transferred out of the Great Lakes Basin must be used for public water supply purposes, clearly defined as “serving a group of largely residential customers.” Of significance, Racine’s diversion application identified no amount of transferred water (0 gallons) that would be used to supply residential customers in the out-of-basin area subject to the diversion request.

The Compact is still in its formative stage and must be defended to protect our magnificent Great Lakes in the near and distant future. To that end, MEA filed a petition challenging the DNR’s approval on behalf of four partner organizations: League of Women Voters of Wisconsin, Milwaukee Riverkeeper, Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy, and River Alliance of Wisconsin. The petition asks for an administrative law judge to review and ultimately withdraw DNR’s approval of the City of Racine’s diversion.