It is important to understand that food and agriculture are the largest consumers of water, requiring one hundred times more than we use for personal needs. Up to 70 % of the water we take from rivers and groundwater goes into irrigation, about 10% is used in domestic applications and 20% in industry.
Montanans recognize the importance of water to agriculture, to industry, to recreation, to wildlife and to our individual quality of life. Many of us, however, may not understand some of the finer details regarding our consumptive habits with this precious resource.
For instance, wheat is Montana’s number one export, with nearly 75% being exported to Asian markets. But did you know that it takes about 150 gallons of water to produce one pound of wheat?
What about other agricultural products exported from the Flathead? It takes:
- Approximately 35 gallons of water to produce one pound of peppermint,
- 140 gallons to produce a pound of stone fruit (such as peaches, plums and cherries), and
- Well over 2,500 gallons to produce a pound of beef.
What about packaged beverages?
- Just over two (2) liters of water are required to produce a liter of soda (and over 70 liters if the production of sugar beets is included).
- A pint of beer needs four to five pints of water for the brewing process (or over 475 pints when accounting for the production of grains).
- Wine demands 4.7 liters per liter, and
- Hard alcohol requires over 34 liters of water for every liter of liquor produced.
Bottled water takes just under 1.4 liters of water per liter packaged.
Montana Artesian Water understands the importance of water in the west, and particularly to our neighbors in the Flathead. Our proposed process is not only extraordinarily efficient when compared to some other packaged beverages, it’s respectful of the resource, and it provides a far healthier product than other packaged beverage alternatives.
Myth # 1 – The water right application is unprecedented in Montana and threatens neighboring wells, wetlands and wildlife habitat.
Fact: The proposed water bottling plant will draw water at a similar rate and total quantity very similar to other common agricultural and commercial uses throughout Flathead, and will have no appreciable impact on the aquifer, river, wetlands or wildlife habitat.
Details: The Montana Bureau of Mines and Geology has determined the over 213,000 acre feet of water flows into the Flathead’s deep aquifer every year. Current authorized uses of water from the deep aquifer draw approximately 23,500 acre-feet per year. Assuming losses for evaporation and evapotranspiration (among other factors), the remaining outflow is approximately 190,000 acre-feet per year.
Montana Artesian Water is requesting a water right for 715 acre-feet per year. This equates to 0.03 percent of the total volume of water currently being pumped from the deep, aquifer or 0.003 percent of the total groundwater inflow into the valley.
Montana Bureau of Mines and Geology hydrogeologists have determined that any impact to Flathead Lake from pumping 23,500 acre-feet that may be occurring at this time is not statistically identifiable. Therefore, the impacts to Flathead Lake from the Montana Artesian Water well would be imperceptible – even if the full right were exercised – and the likelihood of even nearby impacts is extraordinarily low.
Myth # 2 – The bottling plant will pump 450 gallons per minute, 24 hours per day, 7 days per week, 365 days per year.
Fact: The initial phase water bottling operations will utilize approximately 25 to 30 gallons per minute (gpm). As market demands dictate, the bottling plant can eventually be enlarged and scaled up to package more water. While aquifer testing has been conducted to establish a well at the 450 gpm rate, and the water right application has been submitted at that rate, there are no near-term plans to utilize that amount of water. An exponential increase in the size of the bottling facility, and additional permitting would be required to expand beyond a rate of approximately 90 gallons per minute.
Myth # 3 – The plant will package and ship 2 billion bottles of water per year in nearly 50 trucks per day.
Fact: Current plans project three (3) to six (6) trucks per day. This could change if the business is successful, but we would anticipate no more than ten (10) trucks per day at what we consider the capacity of our site.
We have already made an agreement with the County to collaborate on dust control and road maintenance in anticipation of some nominal impact from truck traffic on the road. We have proactively reached out to the County to formalize an agreement to address impacts to county roads directly attributable to our truck traffic.
Myth # 4 – Montana Artesian Water intends to develop the project and sell to a corporate giant.
Fact: Our plans for Montana Artesian Water have been in the works for many years. Our intent is to operate as a small, independently-owned family business to supply high quality water to local area, state-wide and regional consumers.
We have no plans to sell our property as other generations of our family wish to live here long after we are gone.
While our permits would be transferrable, there is little incentive for a large corporate food and beverage company to purchase our operation. Studies commissioned by the state indicate that there is ample water in the aquifer for additional water right applications, and there may be other locations in the valley more suitable for industrial-scale water bottling facilities.