The second day of testimony in Kalispell today regarding a permit for a proposed water bottling plant in the Flathead Valley saw mostly expert witnesses.
Montana’s Department of Natural Resources and Conservation is holding the hearings, and will determine whether to allow Lew Weaver’s Montana Artesian Water Company to draw up to 710 acre feet of water a year.
Key pieces of the ongoing deliberations include the connectivity of ground and surface water in the region, possible effects on neighboring wells, and the procedures followed by the DNRC in their preliminary determination to grant the permit earlier this year.
Darryl James, a consultant for Weaver's bottling company, said that he hadn't yet heard adequate evidence that granting the company its water right would adversely affect senior water rights holders.
"He has no intention of building an industrial scale facility on his personal private home property," James said."
Weaver was absent from the hearing today.
Some objectors say they're worried that granting a permit would open the floodgates for more industrial development in the Flathead valley. But the focus of this week’s hearing is limited to assessing whether the application meets the DNRC's checklist for water permitting.
"It's early in the hearing process, James said. "I think there's a lot more testimony to come, I think we'll wait and see what comes out ... I'm very interested in seeing some objective review of facts and data rather than some of the emotional responses that have been out there for the last several months."
The hearing is scheduled to wrap up Thursday.