About a dozen Flathead residents opposed to a controversial water-bottling plant proposed in Creston testified in the Montana State Capitol Wednesday afternoon, lending their support to legislation that would subject the facility to an additional environmental review before it can be approved.
Sen. Bob Keenan, R-Bigfork, is sponsoring Senate Bill 215, which would add water-packaging plants permitted to consume more than 100 acre-feet of drinking water per year to the list of projects subject to the state’s Major Facility Siting Act. The Montana Artesian Water Co. plant, which initially proposed the plant in late 2015, has requested a permit to use up to 710 acre-feet of water per year, 588 acre-feet of which could be bottled.
Creston resident Sheila Zohrer told the Senate Natural Resources Committee that she’s been frustrated by the limitations of the state’s current regulatory process. She argued that the existing requirements for the company to obtain a water right permit and a wastewater discharge permit fail to fully evaluate the impacts of the plant and its effects on nearby landowners.