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DNRC Headquarters
1539 Eleventh Ave. Helena, MT 59601
Phone: (406) 444-2074 | Fax: (406) 444-2684
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Montana Artesian permit hearing moved to Fairbridge Inn

KALISPELL, Mont. – After recent public safety concerns in the Kalispell region prompted the closures of area schools, including Flathead Valley Community College, officials with the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation (DNRC) have elected to move the “contested case” administrative hearing for the water-use permit application by the Montana Artesian Water Company.

Originally set to take place in an auditorium at Flathead Valley Community College, the hearing will now take place in a conference room at the Fairbridge Inn & Suites (formerly the Outlaw Inn), located at 1701 Highway 93 South, in Kalispell.

The date and time for the hearing remain unchanged. It will begin at 9 a.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2017, and continue for the next 2-3 days.

 DNRC Director John Tubbs said the decision was made following a discussion of recent events in the area with Dr. Jane Karas, President of Flathead Valley Community College.

“The ongoing public safety concerns have caused the campus to be shut down and disrupted the learning environment for students,” Tubbs said. “To avoid further disruption, our hearing will move.”  

A “contested case” hearing is not a public meeting and does not allow for public comment. The hearing is an adversarial proceeding with opposing sides, much like a courtroom trial. Only the applicant and parties to the contested case who filed a valid written objection to the proposed permit are authorized to participate in the hearing. Valid objectors are those who filed timely objections and met statutory criteria as determined by the Department.

The applicant and valid objectors will present factual evidence, exhibits, and testimony from expert witnesses and others. Attorneys representing each party will have the opportunity to cross-examine witnesses, challenge evidence, and make motions, as they would in a courtroom.

A hearing examiner specialized in water law and administrative process will preside over the contested case, and ensure that all parties receive a fair hearing in accordance with applicable laws, rules, and procedures. Following the conclusion of the hearing and close of the records, the hearings examiner will issue a final order; the order includes findings of fact, and conclusions of law based upon the arguments and evidence presented by the parties. 

The hearing is open to the public, with limited public seating available on a first-come, first-served basis. Members of the public who are seated may listen to the proceedings; there is no opportunity for public participation.

The hearing is open to the media. The Department has reserved a limited number of seats for media members; seats are available on a first-come, first-served basis. Media members who cannot find a seat are permitted to stand where space is available. 

Members of the public as well as the media are asked to set their cell phones to silent mode, and to limit their movements in and out of the auditorium while the hearing is in process. Law enforcement and campus security will be present, and individuals who attempt to disrupt the hearing will be asked to leave.


The Hearing Process

  • Opening remarks from Hearing Examiner
  • (Optional) Opening statements by Applicant and Objectors
  • Presentation of testimony and evidence by Objectors, including presentations of pre-filed expert testimony and cross-examination of Objectors’ witnesses.
  • Presentation of testimony and evidence by Applicant, including presentation of pre-filed expert testimony and cross-examination of the Applicant’s witnesses.
  • Objector or Applicant may call rebuttal witnesses and Objector or Applicant may respond to the rebuttal witnesses.
  • The Hearings Examiner may call a DNRC staff witness and ask staff to present materials or testimony. The Hearings Examiner may also question any party or witness to clarify testimony or elicit additional information.
  • (Optional) Closing statements by Applicant and Objectors
  • Closing remarks by Hearings Examiner.


Issuance of Decision

Following the close of the administrative record, the Department will issue a Final Order stating its decision on the application within 90 days. The Final Order may be appealed by filing a petition in state district court within 30 days after service of the Final Order.

Public record of the Hearing

The hearing will be recorded. A copy of the audio recording can be obtained by contacting DNRC Hearings Assistant Jamie Price at (406) 444-6615. There is a small copying fee.