Water bottling plant raises numerous concerns

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My name is Jerry Williams and I live in Columbia Falls. Last night I attended a meeting at Flathead High School conducted by Water for Flathead’s Future in opposition to the water bottling plant proposed in the Creston area.

I am both angry and incensed that our county commissioners, the DNRC, and DEQ have allowed this proposed bottling plant to get this far along without a single environmental impact study. Not only does it appear each agency rubber-stamped the application and allowed Montana Artesian Water Company to get initial approval of the application, but also the issue raises questions of integrity on the part of these elected and appointed agencies. The following issues are very disturbing to not only the people living in the Creston area, but also to all citizens in the Flathead Valley:

• The information supplied in the DNRC and the DEQ applications differ substantially in substance and fact. Why? Do these agencies not cooperate? Is this another example of disgusting bureaucracy in government?

• Safety: Allowing 170 28-ton semi-tractor trucks to enter and exit Montana 35 at Egan Slough Road heightens the dangers for traffic in a spot that is already in question concerning the safety of consumers traveling that route. In addition to the danger, the question of particulates in the form of dust is a real issue for anyone traveling through and living in that area.

• Financial impact for sitizens.

• Excessive wear and tear of Montana 35 and all connecting roadways in the Flathead Valley — who pays for it?

• The DNRC preliminary permit allows the withdrawal of 231 million gallons per year from the well already drilled by Montana Artesian Water Company at no cost to them, yet that will be allowed to sell 1.2 billion 20 oz. bottles of water to local communities as well as transport much of that bottled water out of state — an apparent violation of Montana law.

• When the water table is drawn down (as it surely will be) to the point that residents have to drill deeper wells, who pays for that? The consumer citizen that’s who.

• Decreased property values due to agriculturally zoned land and the associated homes, barns, and other structures being converted to an industrial format.

• Decreased tourism — if you don’t think all these trucks coupled with the annual flow of traffic from tourism will not create a horrible congestion that will lead to people simply not wanting to spend their summers around Flathead — then you need to evaluate your thinking.

• Health impact.

• Making and washing plastic bottles always produces toxic chemicals and more than likely carcinogens. Dioxins, calcium carbonate, BPA, and others are harmful to humans.

• The calcium carbonate produced when plastic bottles are washed will be discharged to the Egan Slough then the Flathead River and Flathead Lake. Do zebra mussels ring a bell?

One attendee at the meeting asked an interesting question: If the people we elect and their appointees do not transact the will of the people that elected them, don’t we have the right to recall them before they serve out their terms? I know each of the agencies cited above will be under very close scrutiny to act on the behalf of the citizens of this valley.

I encourage each of you to view a documentary titled “Tapped” on Netflix or YouTube concerning the intrusive nature of major bottling plants into small communities throughout the United States. The argument that these bottling plants bring prosperity in the form of increased jobs is a bald face lie. These facilities are highly automated and only provide a few low paying jobs.

Williams is a resident of Columbia Falls.

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