Bill Calls For More Rigorous Environmental Standards For Water Bottling Plants
Legislators will soon hear a bill that seeks to treat water bottling facilities with the same environmental scrutiny as other major factories and plants. Senate Bill 215 would establish more rigorous permitting requirements for bottling plants that bottle at least 100 acre feet of water each year.Senator Bob Keenan, a Republican from Bigfork, says the bill would require more public input and prevent a single person from capitalizing on the state’s public resource.
"I think that's the most egregious thing about bottling plants as that issue has surfaced in the last year," says Keenan.
Last year, a local company received initial approval from state agencies to build a bottling facility outside of Kalispell that would draw 588 acre feet per year from a deep aquifer. There’s strong opposition to that in the Flathead Valley.
Keenan says this proposed plant spurred his proposed legislation. He expects opposition from existing bottling facilities, but adds those will be grandfathered in if his bill passes. Keenan says lawmakers will have their first hearing on this bill the week after next.