Don’t Exploit Our Water Resources

Montana Artesian Water Company’s proposed water withdrawal could impact groundwater flow

By Jeff Tuttle

Trust your gut. It doesn’t feel right. My gut tells me it’s wrong to let a single individual’s greed trump what’s best for all Montanans, particularly those current and future residents of Egan Slough, the Flathead Valley, and the entire Flathead River and Lake watershed.

Montana Artesian Water Company’s proposed water withdrawal could impact groundwater flow to the Flathead River (most important under low-flow conditions during drought times); impact the aquatic ecosystem of Egan Slough and the river; impact the functioning of surrounding landowner wells; impact nearby state fish hatchery operations; result in impacts in the area of the proposed plant due to dust, road damage and noise; and potentially release contaminants to the surrounding environment associated with plastic bottle production and washing operations.

Politically, approval of the proposed water bottling plant means increased tax revenue for Flathead County and a chance to tout business growth. In reality, few new jobs would be created by the largely automated water bottling process.

Trust your gut. We need to be aware of the dangerous precedent that may be set by approval of the proposed bottling plant. This is similar to Nestle Company, which is currently exploiting and bottling the groundwater resource of Evart Michigan (among other locations).

Will Northwest Montana be the next hot spot for bottling water? There’s a reason why the Crown of the Continent and the Flathead and Mission Valleys in Northwest Montana are cherished by so many Montanans and visitors. It’s the cool, clear, clean water that is such a precious resource – a Montana resource – and, unfortunately, a disappearing one in much of the country.

Please trust your gut and support the Flathead Lakers and Water for Flathead’s Future’s appeal of the January 2018 DNRC ruling to allow commercial water bottling by Montana Artesian Water Company by approving its water right permit. Neither of these organizations is anti-growth, but both are supporters of sustainable growth with consideration for protecting our clean water, healthy habitat, productive farmland, and healthy communities. Let’s not let a short-sighted view of water resource exploitation set a negative precedent.

Remember the advice that “we don’t inherit the Earth from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children,” which prods us to consider the long-term future of our water. Instead of living just for today, we should carefully consider how our current decisions and actions regarding water policy will affect future generations. The watershed and our heirs deserve our stewardship of the vital water resources entrusted to us. Trust your gut.

Jeff Tuttle

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