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Congressman Brad Schneider

Representing the 10th District of Illinois

Durbin, Duckworth, Schneider Urge U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to Prevent Foxconn Flooding Impact

June 28, 2018
Press Release
Filling in Wisconsin wetlands would have negative environmental impact, raise flood risk

While President Donald Trump breaks ground at the Foxconn project in Mount Pleasant, Wisconsin, U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL), U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), and U.S. Representative Brad Schneider (D-IL-10) today urged the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to increase their oversight of the Foxconn project to prevent increased flooding in Lake County, Illinois. The State of Wisconsin has allowed Foxconn to fill in up to 26 acres of wetlands, which would lead to a higher volume of water in the Des Plaines River Watershed and the potential for more flooding downstream in Lake County.

“We write to express our concerns about downstream flooding problems that could result from the planned Foxconn development in Mount Pleasant, Wisconsin, located only 20 miles from the Illinois-Wisconsin border and in the headwaters of the Des Plaines River Watershed,” Durbin, Duckworth and Schneider wrote. “Given the potential impact on an already flood-prone area of Illinois and Wisconsin’s decision to waive state environmental regulations, we urge the Corps to play a more active oversight role in ensuring all laws and regulations are followed, the project’s environmental impacts are properly considered, and appropriate environmental mitigation measures are put in place to protect the health, safety, and property of our constituents in Illinois.

“Wisconsin is allowing Foxconn to fill up to 26 acres of wetlands that flow into the Des Plaines River Watershed to convert them for industrial use by the development…Neither Foxconn nor the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources have sufficiently studied the environmental impacts of the loss of those wetlands or offered suitable solutions to mitigate flooding in Illinois communities downstream.”

Lake County has experienced significant flooding in recent years with more than 3,000 homes damaged in the aftermath of storms and flooding in 2017. The county has invested in various flood mitigation efforts, but the loss of the wetlands could negate the benefits of the improvements and leave the area more vulnerable to floods. Wetlands play a critically important role in stormwater mitigation, helping to absorb increased stormwater flows and control downstream flooding.

The text of the letter appears below:

June 28, 2018

                                                                                       

Dear Mr. James:

We write to express our concerns about downstream flooding problems that could result from the planned Foxconn development in Mount Pleasant, Wisconsin, located only 20 miles from the Illinois-Wisconsin border and in the headwaters of the Des Plaines River Watershed.  Given the potential impact on an already flood-prone area of Illinois and Wisconsin’s decision to waive state environmental regulations, we urge the Corps to play a more active oversight role in ensuring all laws and regulations are followed, the project’s environmental impacts are properly considered, and appropriate environmental mitigation measures are put in place to protect the health, safety, and property of our constituents in Illinois.

Lake County, Illinois has experienced significant flooding in recent years.  Last year, torrential storms caused damage to more than 3,200 homes in the area and resulted in a state emergency declaration for the region.  Local communities are doing their part to prevent future flooding through stormwater management, investments in infrastructure, and buying out property along the river.  Lake County has already spent millions of dollars on flood prevention efforts, but the Foxconn development could impair those efforts by sending more stormwater downstream into Illinois.

Wisconsin is allowing Foxconn to fill up to 26 acres of wetlands that flow into the Des Plaines River Watershed to convert them for industrial use by the development.  Wetlands play a critically important role in stormwater mitigation, helping to absorb increased stormwater flows and control downstream flooding.  Neither Foxconn nor the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources have sufficiently studied the environmental impacts of the loss of those wetlands or offered suitable solutions to mitigate flooding in Illinois communities downstream.  As a result, the Lake County Stormwater Management Commission, the Lake County Board, and the City of Gurnee have all passed resolutions expressing concern about the impact the project will have on their downstream communities.  Additionally, the Illinois State Senate adopted a resolution in May urging the State of Wisconsin to consider the "serious concerns over the Foxconn development due to the environmental and public health threats it poses."

We must exercise sufficient foresight in evaluating this project’s impact on the region, especially considering the well-established vulnerability to flooding that downstream Illinois communities face.  Given the important role that the Corps plays in flood risk management, we believe that the Corps has a responsibility to ensure that the project’s environmental impacts are properly studied and appropriate mitigation efforts are made to prevent increased flooding in our state.

Sincerely,