Local recruitment: Water Rights Specialist 

Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation

Helena, MT, USA 🇺🇸

Description:

Work Unit Overview: 

The Department of Natural Resources and Conservation’s Water Resources Division works directly with the public, local, regional, state, federal, and international governmental agencies throughout Montana on water management.  The Adjudication Bureau administers the Montana Water Use Act under Title 85, Chapter 2, Montana Codes Annotated.  This act provides for adjudicating Montana’s existing or pre- 1973 water rights (the adjudication Program); acquiring new water rights and changing existing water rights (the New Appropriations Program within the Water Rights Bureau); and a centralized water right record system.  The Adjudication Bureau provides technical and administrative assistance to the Water Court, is responsible for formulating rules and policy to address the examination of existing water rights, and provides work planning, support and oversight to the Division’s eight regional offices and the three work units in Helena. Within designated areas, the Regional Offices conduct field operations and day-to-day activities for the programs of the Division.

Job Overview: 

The Adjudication Specialist (specialist) performs a variety of duties associated with managing Montana’s water resources.  The specialists work primarily with the adjudication programs either in Water Adjudication Bureau in Helena or in one of eight regional water offices throughout Montana. Specialists analyze statements of claim filed in the adjudication process, water right records, and other data sources to identify legal and factual issues, perform aerial photograph and regional analyses, interview claimants, synthesize this data, and report findings to the Water Court.  As decrees are issued, Specialists evaluate and prepare comments regarding potential DNRC objections.  Specialists also perform investigations, give testimony in water rights cases, and provide assistance to the Water Court in collecting, checking, processing, recording, and maintaining water right claims, evidence, records, and case documents.  Specialists provide assistance and information to other agencies and the public regarding state water use laws, water availability, and local water use patterns.  The program also provides information and support for the state water rights records system.

Essential Functions (Major Duties or Responsibilities):  These job functions are the essential duties of the position and are not all-inclusive of all the duties that may be assigned to the incumbent.

WATER RIGHT INVESTIGATIONS AND ANALYSIS                                                                             

-Analysis of water use, availability, and management

  • The specialist evaluates the accuracy of formal claims to historical water use following Supreme Court rules. The specialist reviews technical water information in proposed and final orders and reviews and makes technical comments to the Water Court water master’s proposed orders, reports, and stipulations.  Because water rights are permanent private property rights, these decisions have a profound effect on the water user, the public, and other state, federal, and international agencies.
  • The specialist may be required, through department involvement or by subpoena, to appear as an expert witness providing testimony, expert opinions, and supporting evidence in department contested-case hearings, Water Court hearings and conferences, and district court hearings. Issues are often contentious and involve debate and hostility among disputing parties and the state.  Develops and provides evidence to settle objections to proposed water use develop­ments and Water Court decrees.
  • The specialist provides technical and investigative assis­tance to department attorneys and the Water Court.  

-Water management data gathering, analysis and presentation

  • The specialist gathers field data and provides information on a variety of water issues such as water avail­ability, water uses, site-specific groundwa­ter and surface water problems, water diversion and conveyance facilities, and other water issues. Methods are customized for individual situations. This information may be requested by and provided to water users, attorneys, and the Water Court.
  • Reviews and interprets maps and aerial photos to locate specific resource features such as topography, points of water diversion, ditches, canals, and water conveyance facilities.
  • May participate in public meetings to present information, decisions, or proposed solutions.

-Scientific investigations regarding water resources

  • The specialist plans and conducts scientific field examinations for a variety of water-related purposes.  Examinations are tailored to address specific issues and purposes. Field investigations may involve: measuring flow rates and volumes of water used; confirming that the point of diversion and place of use are correct as specified on a claim.
  • Collects and analyzes watershed measurements using mean annual runoff maps and other drainage area information to project yield, flow rates and volumes in the absence of actual stream data. 
  • Investigations are conducted based on various department programs including new appropriations and adjudication of water rights, dam safety, floodplain management, water measurement, state project management and maintenance, water planning and management, water well standards, water reservations and others.  Investigations include information gathering, documentation and sometimes conflict resolution and problem solving.

WATER DISTRIBUTION PROJECT                                                                                                            

  • Work with the Montana Water Court researching, preparing maps for water distribution projects administrated by the Montana District Courts. Researches pertinent Water Court and District Court orders. Prepares distribution maps for use by the Water Court, District Court, and water commissioners for the enforcement of requested source(s). Provide detail maps of diversions and ditches.
  • Specialist prepare three reports for each project for the Water Court and the District Court that has jurisdiction over the requested source(s). Sources include surface, and at times groundwater, sources that include pre-1973 statements of claim and post-1973 water right changes (change authorizations, exempt rights, permits, and reservations).
  • The Water Court and/or District Courts often hold public meetings in conjunction with these projects, and when asked, the DNRC also attends public meetings to explain the diversion numbering system and the process involved in generating the indexes. If errors are identified they are corrected by the DNRC.
  • Monitors head gates and other diversions within a distribution project, collect flow rates and other requested information for water commissioners to use for the enforcement of the included source(s).

PUBLIC ASSISTANCE, COMPLAINTS, AND DISPUTE RESOLUTION                                                         

  • Public Assistance:  The specialist researches water use information, well log information and land ownership records specific to individual requests. Research requests require providing precise information and interpretations using a variety of sources including the Montana Water Court’s water right decrees, the DNRC statewide water right database, district court decrees, county clerk and recorder records, county assessor tax records, and other department records.  Compiles research information to develop reports and create GIS maps for the general public, attorneys, water users, consultants, and the Water Court. The specialist must often present information that is contrary to the opinions of others and may face debate and confrontation. The specialists may interpret and tailor information to fit individual situations.  Considerable economic investment and land use decisions may be based on the accuracy of the information provided by the specialist.
  • Dispute resolution:  The specialist gathers and analyzes the facts and laws related to the situation and suggests alternatives to find middle ground and satisfy objectors and claimants.  The specialist must contend with opposition and antagonism in attempts to resolve the objections. The specialist must apply dispute resolution techniques combined with technical water expertise, and knowledge of department policies and procedures to resolve objections.  The specialist must maintain an unbiased position in dealing with disputes. 

Other Duties as Assigned:  The specialist performs a variety of other professional and technical duties in support of Division and Regional Office operations.  This includes activities such as attending training and educational programs, meetings, and conferences; representing the Department to local groups and communities; and reviewing and commenting on Division administrative and technical policies and procedures.  Completes administrative functions including providing input on regional office annual operations plan, work plans, budgets, development plans, and other related duties as assigned. Participates on teams for hiring regional office personnel. Serves as acting regional/deputy regional manager as requested.  Participates in annual performance appraisal process.

Supervision:  The specialist does not have supervisory responsibility for other employees.

What are some benefits that you can expect from work at DNRC?

  • Paid Vacation, Sick Leave and Holidays
  • Health Coverage
  • Retirement Plans
  • Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) – Employment with the State of Montana may qualify you to receive student loan forgiveness under the PSLF. 

APPLICATION AND SELECTION PROCESS:

The DNRC may include the following factors in determining whether an applicant meets the qualifications of a position vacancy by: State of MT application form, cover letter, current resume, educational requirements, structured interview, a performance test, job-related reference checks, job-related work experience, job-related past and current performance.  
 

APPLICATION MATERIALS REQUIRED FOR THIS POSTION ARE: 

  • Resume 
  • Cover Letter

TIP:  When attaching your resume, cover letter and other material, you must mark the attachments as “relevant”

If you have any questions regarding this position, please email Becky Quick at [email protected]

Qualifications

Minimum Qualifications (Education and Experience):

  • Bachelor’s degree in in natural resource management or the natural sciences.
  • One year of experience with water-resource management.
  • Other combinations of education and experience may be substituted.

Required knowledge:

  • Knowledge of Montana water law, relevant interstate and reserved water compacts, rules, policies, procedures, and government operations. 
  • Knowledge of water resource-related management theories, principles, concepts and practices; field investigation methodologies; and negotiation, and conflict resolution techniques. 
  • Knowledge of local water availability, water use practices, water measurement techniques and devices, irrigation methods and designs, public land ownership records, court decrees and orders.
  • Knowledge of local, state, and federal governmental administrative processes.

Special Information:  Candidates must be eligible to work in the United States.  A valid driver’s license is required with less than 12 conviction points in the most recent completed 36 months. 

Eligibility to Work: In accordance with the Immigration Reform and Control Act, the person selected must produce within three days of hire documents that show authorization to work in the United States. Examples of such documentation include a birth certificate or Social Security card along with a driver’s license or other picture I.D., or a U.S. passport, or a “green card”.

Applicant Pool Statement:  If another department vacancy occurs in this job title within six months, the same applicant pool may be used for the selection. Training Assignment:  This agency may use a training assignment. Employees in training assignments may be paid below the base pay established by the agency pay rules. Conditions of the training assignment will be stated in writing at the time of hire.  

Job:  Environmental Sciences 

Salary: $ 25.00 – 25.00  Hourly 

Benefits Package Eligibility:  Health Insurance, Paid Leave & Holidays, Retirement Plan  

Number of Openings:  1 

Employee Status:  Regular 

Schedule:  Full-Time 

Shift:  Day Job 

Travel:  Yes, 5 % of the Time  

Primary Location:  Helena 

Agency:  Department of Natural Resources & Conservation 

Union:  000 – None 

Bargaining Unit:  000 – None  

Posting Date:  Sep 9, 2022, 9:26:06 PM 

Closing Date (based on your computer’s timezone):  Oct 1, 2022, 8:59:00 AM 

Required Application Materials:  Cover Letter, Resume  

Contact Name:  Becky Quick  |  Contact Email:  [email protected]  |  Contact Phone:  406-444-6673 

The State of Montana has a decentralized human resources (HR) system. Each agency is responsible for its own recruitment and selection. Anyone who needs a reasonable accommodation in the application or hiring process should contact the agency’s HR staff identified on the job listing or by dialing the Montana Relay at 711. Montana Job Service Offices also offer services including assistance with submitting an online application.

State government does not discriminate based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, pregnancy, childbirth or medical conditions related to pregnancy or childbirth, age, physical or mental disability, genetic information, marital status, creed, political beliefs or affiliation, veteran status, military service, retaliation, or any other factor not related to merit and qualifications of an employee or applicant.


POSITION TYPE

ORGANIZATION TYPE

EXPERIENCE-LEVEL

DEGREE REQUIRED