Gurnee says Foxconn development will increase flooding by 2 inches

  • A drone photo shows the extent of the July 2017 flooding in downtown Gurnee. According to the village, the average flood event there will be worse because of the large Foxconn development in southeastern Wisconsin.

    A drone photo shows the extent of the July 2017 flooding in downtown Gurnee. According to the village, the average flood event there will be worse because of the large Foxconn development in southeastern Wisconsin. Daily Herald File Photo

 
 

The large Foxconn development in southeastern Wisconsin will increase flooding in Gurnee by two inches after a heavy rain, according to a village analysis of a report by Lake County Stormwater Management. And if development near Foxconn continues, officials said, the flooding could get 10 times worse.

David Ziegler, the village's community development director, delivered his findings to the Gurnee village board this week. He based his analysis on the study Lake County commissioned in July, which found that the project will increase flooding along the Des Plaines River and degrade the quality of the waterway.

Ziegler determined that flooding in Gurnee would increase by about two inches over the course of 24 hours after a heavy rain because of Foxconn.

"It's not fire and brimstone at this point, but it is something we should be concerned about, especially as it expands," Ziegler said.

Representatives for Foxconn did not respond when reached for comment. In a column written for the Daily Herald and published over the summer, Republican Robin J. Vos, speaker of the Wisconsin State Assembly, addressed environmental concerns raised by Illinois officials and said "any worries about flooding downstream should be put at ease."

Foxconn plans to build a flat-screen manufacturing campus in Mount Pleasant, about 20 miles north of Gurnee. Republican lawmakers in Wisconsin -- led by then-Gov. Scott Walker -- extended the company an unprecedented $4 billion in incentives and exempted the Taiwanese electronics giant from a host of environmental regulations, allowing the company to fill wetlands without a permit and to proceed without an environmental-impact statement.

Ziegler said phase one of the Foxconn project includes about 543 acres of land; the first two phases involve a total of 17,000 acres.

"So we're looking at a magnitude of three times or four times from where we are right now," Ziegler said. "So now we're starting to talk about a significant amount of stormwater."

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Ziegler added that if Foxconn's development is successful and it inspires further development along the I-94 corridor then the magnitude could end up being a factor of 10 and the two inches of flooding will become 20 inches.

Mayor Kristina Kovarik, who sits on the county stormwater commission, said the increased flooding will affect the village for years.

"Two inches I guess we can handle, the six to eight inches worries me," Kovarik said.

The full report on the impact of Foxconn on the Des Plaines River commissioned by Lake County was completed by Rosemont-based Christopher B. Burke Engineering Ltd. and released to the public in early March. That full report is available at lakecountyil.gov/553/Stormwater-Management-Commission.

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