Local recruitment: Water Resources New Appropriations Specialist

Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation

Helena, MT, USA 🇺🇸

At DNRC we are passionate about ensuring that Montana’s land and water resources remain a benefit today and for future generations. We are actively seeking an Appropriations Specialist who values the vast resources in our treasure state as much as we do.

The DNRC believes employees are their most important asset. The DNRC empowers employees to exercise professional judgment in carrying out their duties. Employees are provided with the training and tools necessary to achieve the mission. Both team effort and individual employee expertise are supported and sustained.

Work Unit Overview:  The Regional Offices of the Water Resources Division represent the Department of Natural Resources and Conservation’s Water Resources Division that works directly with the public, local, regional, state, federal, and international governmental agencies in a designated region of the state.  The Regional Office conducts field operations and day-to-day activities for the programsof the Division including the Water Rights Bureau’s New Appropriations Program. The New Appropriations Program encompasses permitting new water rights, changing existing water rights, closure of highly appropriated basins, establishment of controlled groundwater areas, conducting hearings on contested cases, administration of water reservations, administration of federal reserved water right compacts, and verification and certification of new appropriations.

Job Overview:  The New Appropriation Specialists (specialist) performs a broad variety of duties associated with managing Montana’s water resources.  Specialists work primarily with the Water Right Bureau’s New Appropriations program, while also providing technical assistance for each program administered by the Water Resources Division.  The primary tasks include analysis of issues pertaining to water use, availability and management; analysis and decisions; collection and analysis of technical water data; researching water use information; conducting field investigations to collect and evaluate water data;applying Montana Environmental Policy Act (MEPA) analysis and documentation to water right applications; investigating water use complaints; resolving disputes between water users; and performing other water resource management functions as required.

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

  1. The specialist analyzes and makes recommendations regarding the use, availability, and management of the state’s water resources.  Prepares detailed technical reports tailored to specific situations reflecting analysis on water use applications, changes and historic water right claims; prepares maps utilizing Geographic Information System (GIS) technology; and evaluates proposed, existing, and historical water rights to determine validity. Reviews technical literature and consults hydrologic profes­sionals for information and to resolve technical hydrologic questions and problems relating to historical, existing, and proposed water uses.
  2. The specialist evaluates the accuracy and extent of historical existing claimed and permitted water uses to make critical decisions about individual rights to use water and to appropriate new water without adverse effects to existing uses. Hydrologic data is analyzed to determine if water rights of a prior appropriator will be adversely affected, and if the proposed means of diversion, construction, and operation are adequate.
  3. The specialist analyzes the applicant’s justification and calculations for the requested flow rate and volume to determine if the amount of water requested is reasonable, and that the water will be put to a beneficial use.  The specialist may determine that one or more of the elements of a claimed water right or the criteria submitted with a new application have not been met and may then modify, remark, condition, or deny the water right. 
  4. The specialist evaluates each proposed water use to identify potential environmental impacts as required by the Montana Environmental Policy Act (MEPA).
  5. 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.
  6. The specialist conducts comprehensive analyses of all water uses in basins being considered for groundwater and surface water closures and provides technical water availabil­ity information.  Monitors activities related to controlled groundwater areas, water reserva­tions, tribal water rights, and negotiated federal reserved water rights to ensure compli­ance.
  7. The specialist provides technical and investigative assis­tance to department attorneys, and hearings examiners regarding objections and water quantification issues for new appropriations. 

Water management data gathering, analysis and presentation

  1. The specialist gathers field data and provides technical and/or scientific 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.
  2. Provides information regarding department policies, positions and viewpoints to other state and local entities such as conservation districts, local planning boards, local drought management committees, other water resources management groups, and student groups. 
  3. Reviews and interprets maps and aerial photos to locate specific resource features such as topography, points of water diversion, ditches, canals, water conveyance facilities, groundwater developments, vegetation types, and fence lines. Researches and analyzes factors associated with water use conflicts and suggests alternatives for resolving them.
  4. Attends public meetings as needed on a variety of water resource issues.

Scientific investigations regarding water resources

  1. The specialist plans and conducts scientific field examinations for a variety of water-related purposes.  Field investigations 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 permit; verifying that water permit project design, construction and operation standards comply with permit specifications; verifying capacities of reservoirs, ditches and canals; installing various surface and groundwater measuring devices such as flumes, current meters, weirs, pitot tubes, piezometers and well probes; collecting water measurement data including reservoir levels and stream gauge readings; using land surveying equipment such as transits, levels, and measuring tapes.
  2. 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. 
  3. Assists with investigating water well complaints to ensure that groundwater wells are properly constructed and that Board of Water Well Contractor specifications are met.
  4. Conducts field investigations for the water measurement program.
  5. Measures and analyzes groundwater levels on a continuing basis to determine trends and probable effects on aquifers in areas of concern.
  6. Monitors water levels at reservoirs.  This may include taking piezometer readings using water level indicators or vibrating wire electronic readings, weir and flume measurements of reservoir drain systems, and water level elevations and stream flow readings using a Stevens recorder or current meter.
  7. Investigates water-related activities to ensure compliance with various regulations.
  8. Independently decides on investigation procedures and techniques to be used; collects and analyzes data independently determining the frequency of data collection based on environmental conditions and other influencing factors; and writes technical reports documenting investigation results.
  9. Investigations are conducted based on various department programs including new appropriations, 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.

PUBLIC ASSISTANCE, COMPLAINTS, AND DISPUTE RESOLUTION                                             

  1. 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. Considerable economic investment and land use decisions may be based on the accuracy of the information provided by the specialist.
  2. Water use complaint investigations:  The specialist investigates water use complaints pertaining to alleged violations of the Water Use Act, which include waste and infringement on other water rights.  Investigations may include researching water resource records, historical water uses, and court decrees; conducting site inspections and/or field investigations; and interviewing involved parties.  Because complaints are frequently emotionally charged, the specialist may be required to defuse the conflict situation by serving as mediator between the parties.  As applicable, the specialist may offer technical and constructive solutions to resolve conflict.  If the parties cannot remedy the conflict and a violation has occurred, the specialist may refer the case to the District Court.

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. 


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.  


  • State Application
  • 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 Kellie Richetti at Krichetti@mt.gov

Qualifications – External

Minimum Qualifications (Education and Experience):

  • Bachelor’s degree in natural resource management or the natural sciences.
  • Three years 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:  Not Applicable  

Salary: $ 26.55 – 26.55  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, 10 % of the Time  

Primary Location:  Helena 

   Agency:  Department of Natural Resources & Conservation 

Union:  000 – None  

Posting Date:  Dec 16, 2022, 11:43:55 PM 

Closing Date (based on your computer’s timezone):  Jan 9, 2023, 8:59:00 AM 

Required Application Materials:  Cover Letter, Resume  

Contact Name:  Kellie Richetti  |  Contact Email:  krichetti@me.com  |  Contact Phone:  4064440513 

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.





IHE Delft MSc in Water and Sustainable Development