Montana Public Radio

Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation

Site of the the proposed Montana Artesian Water Company bottling plant near Creston, MT.
Nicky Ouellet / Montana Public Radio

A company that wants to open a water bottling plant outside Kalispell was given a water right permit by the state Friday.

Montana’s Department of Natural Resources and Conservation has granted Creston-based Montana Artesian Water Company’s permit to pump 710 acre-feet per year from the Flathead Valley’s deep aquifer.

USGS

State budget cuts mean that ranchers, recreation businesses and conservationists who rely on accurate information about water in Montana are facing new challenges.

That green and brown gunk is a mix of algae, plankton and bits of genetic material that hold the answer to whether Flathead Lake has mussels in it. One sample comes from 9 meters deep, the other from the surface.
Nicky Ouellet

Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks Thursday announced it detected additional evidence of invasive mussels in one eastern Montana reservoir last summer. The detection raises a few red flags.

FWP found microscopic invasive baby mussels in Tiber and Canyon Ferry Reservoirs for the first time in the fall of 2016. But the state agency and its partners didn’t find any last summer.

That green and brown gunk is a mix of algae, plankton and bits of genetic material that hold the answer to whether Flathead Lake has mussels in it. One sample comes from 9 meters deep, the other from the surface.
Nicky Ouellet

As state legislators return to Helena next week to try to balance the state budget, one of the programs facing deep cuts is tasked with protecting rivers and lakes in the Flathead Basin from invasive mussels. They may not be able to continue that work.

The Flathead Basin Commission was supposed to oversee a new pilot program next summer that would shore up protections against zebra and quagga mussels, invasive species that have caused millions of dollars of damage in infested states and changed lake ecosystems in ways we still don’t really understand.

Ali Ulwelling from the Montana DNRC guides Whitefish-area homeowners through the process of assessing a home for fire preparedness.
Nicky Ouellet

At sunset, the forest west of Whitefish is more golden than green, the needles of western larches catching the last rays of sunlight. The glowing trees look like they’re on fire. Even now, with snow on the forecast, folks who live deep in this forest, like Ben Duvall, are still thinking about wildfire.

Duvall is the fire chief for Big Mountain Fire and Rescue, and last week, he hosted two-dozen neighbors, kids and dogs to talk about creating a fire adapted community; basically, making their neighborhood ready to withstand fire moving through it without much help from firefighters.

Montana Fire Suppression Costs.
Montana Legislative Fiscal Division

A new state report says 2017 was likely the the most expensive fire season in Montana history.

That report by state legislative analysts said the state spent $74 million on fire suppression. The next closest year was 2012, when the state spent less than $60 million.

DNRC Not Hearing Testimony From Water Company Owner

Oct 5, 2017
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

The owner of a company proposing a much-contested water bottling plant in Creston in the Flathead Valley won't be compelled to testify before the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation.

Boat propeller encrusted with invasive mussels.
National Parks Service (PD)

A new group that aims to harmonize Montana’s response to invasive mussels, and prevent the economic and environmental damage they can cause, met for the first time Wednesday in Missoula.

Divers with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and Montana FWP prepare to dive at Tiber Dam to look for adult zebra and/or quagga mussels, August 7, 2017.
Beth Saboe / MontanaPBS

Montana’s Environmental Quality Council is starting two days of meetings tomorrow, where lawmakers and other council members will hear the latest on the battle against aquatic invasive species.

Site of the the proposed Montana Artesian Water Company bottling plant near Creston, MT.
Nicky Ouellet / Montana Public Radio

 UPDATE: Friday, September 22: The public hearing record remains open pending closing briefs from counsel and Montana Artesian Water Company owner Lew Weaver's testimony. Weaver's testimony is optional to the proceedings.

 

The DNRC's 90-day decision period will not commence until the record closes. Hearing examiner David Vogler will meet on a conference call with the parties' counsel on Wednesday, Sept. 27 to determine next steps in this matter.

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