Opponents of a proposed water bottling plant outside of Kalispell held a meeting Wednesday night to update local residents on the status of permits relating to the plant.
The Montana Artesian Water Company’s plant would bottle, ship and sell nearly 192 million gallons - about 1.2 billion 12-ounce water bottles - of treated groundwater per year.
The company needs a water right permit from the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation and a permit to discharge wastewater from the state Department of Environmental Quality.
DNRC issued preliminary approval of the water right application last spring, but after receiving a slew of objections, will hold a hearing May 23. The status of a permit from the DEQ to discharge water into an unnamed tributary of the Flathead River is unknown.
David Eikner, a local resident, outlined Water for Flathead’s Future objections to the proposed plant for a 150-person crowd at Wednesday night’s meeting.
"So basically the issues are this is going to create too much dust, too much noise, too much exhaust from all these trucks, diminishing our quality of life here and loss in property values," Eikner said.
Water for Flathead’s Future unsuccessfully petitioned Flathead County Commissioners last winter to rezone the area of the proposed plant for agricultural, non-commercial use. The group has since sued the county.
Lew Weaver, owner of Montana Artesian Water Company, says the plant will create jobs and use about the same amount of water it takes to irrigate 160 acres of alfalfa.