DNRC Upholds Creston Water-Bottling Permit

Group opposing Montana Artesian Water Company anticipates appeal in court

By Molly Priddy
A water-bottling plant is proposed on Lew Weaver’s land near Creston. Beacon File Photo

The state Department of Natural Resources and Conservation upheld its decision to issue a water permit to a controversial, proposed water-bottling plant in Creston, despite objections from neighbors to the property.

DNRC hearing examiner David Vogler granted the water permit to the Montana Artesian Water Company on Jan. 26.

Last September, dozens of neighbors to the property, owned by Lew Weaver, attempted to halt the project during a DNRC hearing. During the course of the three-day hearing in Kalispell, attorneys representing around 40 objectors laid out their case against the plant, arguing that the state erred when it issued a preliminary water-rights permit after determining it would cause “no adverse impacts” to other water-rights owners in the area.

In the Jan. 26 final order, the DNRC determined that the Montana Artesian Water Company proved all the applicable criteria necessary to get the permit, and said the original 2016 decision to issue the permit was correct.

Since it was the department’s final order on the matter, there are no more departmental appeals for anyone seeking to challenge it. Such a challenge would have to come in court within 30 days of the final order.

Water for Flathead’s Future, one of the groups against the water-bottling plant, said it’s in contact with its attorneys and anticipates filing an appeal in court.

The Montana Artesian Water Company received approval from the state Montana Department of Environmental Quality to draw 710 acre-feet of water per year, the equivalent to 1.2 billion 20-ounce water bottles.

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