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State upholds permits for controversial Flathead water plant - KPAX.com | Continuous News | Missoula & Western Montana

State upholds permits for controversial Flathead water plant

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HELENA - The Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation is upholding a company’s controversial permit to open a bottled water plant in the Flathead Valley.

Montana Artesian Water Company has been working for over two years to get state approval for the water plant which would draw water underneath a slough area along the Flathead River near Creston.

The company wants to be able to pull the equivalent of more than a billion regular bottles of water using wells tapping into the groundwater every year, more than 230 million gallons.  

Montana Department of Environmental Quality granted company owner Lew Weaver a permit last year. But opponents challenged a preliminary water-use permit from the DNRC, with a multi-day hearing in Kalispell. 

Critics were worried about the company’s wells drawing down water supplies for surrounding properties and creating additional traffic in the rural area. The company argued those concerns were unfounded. 

On Friday, DNRC announced its findings in case saying it would grant Montana Artesian its permit, saying the company has proven the operation won’t degrade water quality. 

Opponents have 30 days to petition the courts to hear any appeal.

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