case,” over a proposed water bottling plant near Creston is underway. The issue is over a decision to grant a water-use permit to the Montana Artesian water Company. The permit will allow the company to pull nearly 200-million gallons of bottled groundwater per year from the banks of the Flathead River. As MTN’s Nicole Miller reports, it’s been an ongoing battle for more than a year between the company and Flathead residents who filed legal objections with the Department. The hearing began with opening statements. Attorney with the United States Department of the Interior who represents US Fish and Wildlife Service — in particular the Creston National Hatchery. S/ John Chafee – Attorney – U.S. Department of the Interior”We are very concerned that this water will be harmed for the detriment of all of the fish that we provide throughout the United States as part of our obligation to the United States and the people of America.” An attorney representing multiple objectors who specializes in water, natural resource and property law. S/ Graham Coppes – Attorney representing objectors – Ferguson Law Office PLLC.”There is a number of criteria expected for permits such as this one to be issue. Those permits require the applicant to meet its burden of proof on all of the statutory criteria. That includes that water is physically available that water is legally available and that no other users will be adversely affected by the proposed new diversion of water and in this case we don’t feel the applicant met their burden of proof to show any of those things.” An independent consultant representing the applicant of the permit and owner of the Montana Artesian Water Company Lew Weaver. S/ Darryl James – Independent consultant representing applicant”We’re going to have a couple of days of expert testimony to decide whether the application was complete or whether there are impacts that were not identified through this process.” S/ Nicole Miller – Reporting (stand- up)”Once the hearing comes to a final close the Department hearing examiner has up to 90 days to issue his decision. This hearing is just getting underway and over the next several days expert testimoney is expected from both sides. Reporting in Kalispell, Nicole Miller, MTN News.” The final order may also be appealed by either party in state district court. Testimony is will continue tomorrow. The hearing is open to the public.