Flathead Lakers Appeal Water-Bottling Permit

Nonprofit organization to appeal DNRC decision granting permit to Montana Artesian Water Company

By Beacon Staff
The Egan Slough and farm land near Creston, seen from the air during an EcoFlight tour on June 27, 2017. Greg Lindstrom | Flathead Beacon

A local environmental nonprofit organization has filed an appeal with the state Department of Natural Resources and Conservation, seeking a reversal of the agency’s decision to grant a permit to a water-bottling plant in Creston.

The Flathead Lakers announced the group would appeal the DNRC’s January decision to issue a water permit to the Montana Artesian Water Company, a controversial proposed water-bottling plant in Creston, despite objections from valley residents and neighbors to the property.

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

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.

“A main reason for our concern is the precedent this permit would set,” said Executive Director Robin Steinkraus in a prepared statement. “It would allow a large water-bottling company to secure a permanent right to water held in trust by the state for the people of Montana without critical review of all impacts.”

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.

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