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Flathead Judge Rules Montana DEQ's Review Of Bottling Plant Inadequate

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

A Flathead County District Court judge ruled July 21 that a Montana Department of Environmental Quality review failed to consider the full effects of a water-bottling plant near Creston.

Montana Artesian Water Co.’s bottling plant obtained a wastewater discharge permit from the DEQ in 2017. However, that ruling was challenged in court by a local activists group and neighboring landowners. They argued the DEQ permit and a beneficial water permit from the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation were invalid for failing to properly assess the environmental impacts of the permits as required by Montana Environmental Protection Act.

The suit was filed by Water for Flathead’s Future, Inc. and landowners Amy Waller, Steven Moore and Cynthia Edstrom against the DEQ and DNRC. Montana Artesian is an intervenor.

Judge Amy Eddy ruled that the plaintiffs met the constitutional requirements for individual standing despite not submitting standing affidavits. She wrote that the plant “threatens to disturb wildlife habitat and scenic beauty, introduces industrial activity into a rural setting and its activities threaten water quality, in addition to diminishing the value and enjoyment of their nearby properties.”

The court sent the case back to the state agencies to correct “the deficiencies in the environmental review.” The plaintiffs must submit their requested remedies to the court by Aug. 13, and the defendants must submit any response briefs by Aug. 27.

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Alicia McAlpine