After 87 days of thinking *really, really* hard, On January 29th the DNRC approved MAWC’s water permit to draw 245 million gallons of water annually from the Flathead Valley's aquifer in Kalispell, Montana, just south of Glacier National Park. This allows one of the largest bottling plants proposed in America to move forward for the personal profit of Lew Weaver, a retired California mortician. This is an inexcusably bad, but expected, decision to allow his plant to export 1.22 BILLION 20oz bottles of water per year, or about 140,000 bottles per hour. His plant will run 24/7, 365 and will offer no opportunity for our aquifer to recharge. Since the deciding officer, David Vogler, is an employee of the DNRC, it is not a surprise that he ignored community objectors and ruled in favor of his own employer. A reminder that during the September hearing, objectors to this water permit showed that there is NO way MAWC should get this permit, for the following reasons:
1) The application was missing (a lot of) required information and therefore should have been rejected immediately. For example, the wells that were tested are of unknown depths, and the pump test only took 10 readings instead of the 24 required.
2) The DNRC hydrologists incorrectly used an equation to interpret MAWC’s effects on other wells. The author of this equation testified that the DNRC's math was faulty.
3) The community had nationally renowned hydrologists confirm that the bottling plant is NOT in the deep aquifer and will have severe impacts on the valley’s surface waters. (Read: in addition to the 2,000+ community wells the DNRC knows will be impacted, there may be unforeseen consequences to wetlands, fens, bogs, and thousands of other wells in the shallow aquifer.) Moreover, the DNRC couldn’t be bothered to analyze MAWC’s potential surface water effects at all and claims that the effect on 2,000+ wells is "no impact." They also said that Flathead Lake "does not support aquatic life."
These are but a few of the water permit’s many flaws, not to mention the many harmful consequences of this plant.
Why has Governor Bullock, the DNRC’s boss, refused to stop this? Why is Bullock allowing a retired Californian to draw down thousands of wells, export our community resource out of state for his private profit, and pollute the Flathead River with millions of gallons of plastic rinse water in the meantime? Bullock should be held accountable for this, since the DNRC is HIS agency.
Now, more than ever, it is critical that we come together and stay strong as we move to fight this with a lawsuit. We are confident that the District Court will throw out the permit, as the community has shown that this permit should not be legally granted. If it is not thrown out, it shows a deep corruption in Montana's due process of law, as we will have correctly done everything possible as citizens to stop this. It should not be this tough to stop something this bad - something the likes of which Montana has never seen.
It is strange that the DNRC has wasted so much time and money of its citizens (legal and hydrology bills have now topped $250,000) to look for ANY possibly way to let this thing through. Why are they trying so hard to allow our water to be exported, when there are dozens of reasons to legally and easily turn this down? There is no point in a Department of Natural Resources and Conservation, if it seeks to illegally exploit and export, rather than conserve, its community's natural resources.
What can you do?
1) Share this post
2) Donate $5 to the cause athttp://www.waterforflatheadsfuture.org/help-us-now/#top - the community has spent more than $250,000 on legal and hydrology bills and now needs more funding to move forward with the lawsuit.
3) Write letters to your local papers and lawmakers - the plant will dump its wastewater into Flathead River, which is a national navigable waterway and therefore is of national concern.
4) Give Governor Bullock shit. Here's his contact page:https://governor.mt.gov/Home/Contact/shareopinion
5) Give the Flathead county commissioners shit
6) Turn up for the June 5th vote to support the Egan Slough Zoning District
7) Vow never to buy MAWC's water, under any circumstances, if it comes out on top.
Here's the link to the article in the Daily Interlake "DNRC Faces Tough Questions at DNRC Bottling-Plant Hearing"
Here's the link to the a blip in MPR: "Hearings Begin on Proposed Creston Water Bottling Plant"
find out more at: Water for Flathead's Future
P.S. Did you hear esteemed Commissioner Phil Mitchell has been accused of a felony? Click here.
(That being said, there's still time to contact Governor Steve Bullock. As a reminder, he has nothing. Zero. Nada. Tell him to do his frickin' job and issue an Environmental Impact Statement. Click 'Take Action' below.)