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Hearings Begin On Proposed Creston Water Bottling Plant

A section reserved for objectors at the September 19, 2017 public hearing on the proposed Creston water bottling plant in Kalispell. This past January the plant was granted a water right permit by the state.
Olga Kreimer
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One section reserved for objectors at the September 19 public hearing on the proposed Creston water bottling plant in Kalispell, MT.

Close to 200 people showed up to the first day of hearings in Kalispell Tuesday about whether the state should permit a water bottling plant near Creston in the Flathead Valley. The Montana Artesian Water Company is asking to draw up to 710 acre-feet of groundwater for that per year.

John Chaffin is an attorney with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's hatchery in Creston.

"We have water rights that go back into the '50s, and we are very concerned that this water will be harmed to the detriment of all of the fish that we provide throughout the United States," Chaffin's opening statement said.

The company needs two permits to begin operating, and has already received one, a discharge permit, from the Montana Department of Environmental Quality. The hearing that started today will lead to a final determination by Montana's Department of Natural Resources and Conservation whether to permit drawing groundwater for bottling and operations.

Company Founder Lew Weaver describes his proposal as a small bottling operation that won't use the entire water right he's applied for.

The hearing is expected to last through Thursday at the Fairbridge Inn in Kalispell.

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