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Elon Musk Laughed at the Idea of Tesla Using Too Much Water. Now It’s a Real Problem

Scientists say the factory Tesla is building in Germany would exacerbate local climate change issues.

A sign designating a "Water Protection Area" at the Tesla factory construction site in Gruenheide, Germany, on Feb. 11.

A sign designating a "Water Protection Area" at the Tesla factory construction site in Gruenheide, Germany, on Feb. 11.

Photographer: Liesa Johannssen-Koppitz/Bloomberg
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When Elon Musk was asked last year whether the factory Tesla Inc. was constructing in Germany would deplete the area’s water supply, he broke out in bellowing laughter and called the notion “completely wrong.”

Six months later, water is one of the primary reasons the plant still isn’t producing vehicles.