More than 100 people gathered in the rain on Tuesday afternoon in downtown Kalispell to protest a proposed water-bottle plant in Creston.
The protest was organized by Water for Flathead’s Future, a group formed last year in response to Montana Artesian Water’s plan to draw water from an aquifer near Egan Slough and bottle it for sale.
Neighbors of the proposed water-bottling plant worry that the facility – which could annually produce 1.2 billion 20-ounce water bottles – would draw water from nearby wells while others are concerned about the negative impacts to the aquifer and surrounding area. Montana Artesian Water owner Lew Weaver has applied for a permit from the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation that would allow his company to produce up to 140,000 water bottles per hour, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
A hearing is scheduled for May 23 to allow objectors to outline their concerns about the proposed plant. Creston resident Steve Harvey, one of the protestors standing along U.S. Highway 93 on Tuesday afternoon, said he took issue with the DNRC’s permitting process and said the state should do a full environmental impact study before giving its final approval.
“This water bottling plant will have a negative impact on all of us,” Harvey said.
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