DEQ Extends Comment Period for Creston Water Bottling Plant

Agency accepting comments on draft discharge permit until Aug. 15

By Beacon Staff
Lew Weaver talks about the Montana Artesian Water Co., a water bottling facility in Creston. Beacon File Photo

State officials have extended the public comment period on a draft permit for the proposed Montana Artesian Water Company bottling plant near Creston.

The extension is due to a website error, according to a spokesperson for the Montana Department of Environmental Quality.

“We want to give interested citizens a full opportunity to prepare and submit their comments on this permitting decision,” said Jon Kenning, chief of the DEQ Water Protection Bureau.

The wrong fact sheet for the Montana Artesian Water Company draft Montana Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit was posted on the department website for approximately one week from July 15 to July 20, according to officials. The error was corrected as soon as it was discovered; however, DEQ is extending the public comment period until Aug. 15, giving the public an additional 10 days to comment on the draft permit.

Lew Weaver, the owner of Montana Artesian Water Co., is seeking to pump 710 acre-feet of water annually from an underground aquifer near Egan Slough along the Flathead River, the equivalent of 1.2 billion 20-ounce water bottles.

Weaver’s request, and his goal to produce 140,000 water bottles per hour, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year at a facility on his farmland, drummed up considerable attention, fueling concerns among neighbors and residents across the valley.

Weaver has defended his plans, saying he followed the proper regulatory steps and studied the potential environmental consequences.

All the relevant documents, including the draft permit, fact sheet, and environmental assessment are available for public review and comment on the DEQ website at http://deq.mt.gov/Public/notices/wqnotices.

The public hearing has not been rescheduled and will be held Aug. 1. During the public hearing, DEQ will record public comments on the draft permit. The public hearing is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. in the Creston School gymnasium located at 4495 Montana Highway 35 in Kalispell.

Anyone who believes any condition of a draft permit is inappropriate or in error, or that the tentative decision to issue the permit is incorrect, must submit these concerns in writing to DEQ before the public comment period ends. DEQ will consider all comments in making a final decision.

DEQ will make reasonable accommodations for persons with disabilities who wish to participate in the public meeting. If you require an accommodation, please contact Lisa Peterson at 406-444-2929 or lpeterson@mt.gov at least three days before the meeting.

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