Local recruitment: Regional Office Hydro Specialist

Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation

Lewistown, MT, USA 🇺🇸

Job Overview

The Water Resources Regional Offices represent the Department of Natural Resources and Conservation Water Resources Division’s (WRD) work directly in designated regions of the state.  Within this designated area,the Regional Office (RO) conducts field operations and day-to-day activities for the programsof the WRD. TheROadministers or participates in activities that include but are not limited to: permitting of new water rights, changes of existing water rights,examination of claims toexisting water rights, resolving conflicts between private and public water users, water use enforcement, recording and transferring water rights, interstate basin water management projects, determining and administering high hazard dams in accordance with dam safety regulations, licensing water well contractors, ensuring properconstruction of water wells, managing state-owned dams, reservoirs and canals plus working with water users associations who administer the day to day operations of state owned projects, floodplain management, drought management, water planning for surface water and groundwater supplies, and administer the water measurement program on chronically dewatered streams.  Regional offices are in Helena, Bozeman, Billings, Glasgow, Lewistown, Havre, Kalispell, and Missoula.

The RO Hydro Specialist analyzes and makes decisions regarding permitting new uses of water and changes to existing water rights for the management of the state’s water resources.  This position uses information supplied by applicants and claimants and other information sources to make critical decisions about the legal and physical use of ground water and surface water.  The Hydro Specialist works closely with the staff in the WRD located in Helena and in other Regional Offices. The Hydro Specialist provides technical support to the regional manager for specific assigned projects such as working with watershed groups, and WRD bureaus, aids on water use complaints, and assist with mitigating to resolution of those complaints.

Essential Functions (Major Duties or Responsibilities):

Water Rights

  • Incumbent assists water users with explaining the rule requirements on applications for permits and changes in accordance with applicable laws, rules, policy, and procedures.  
  • This position will provide technical analysis of surface and groundwater applications as they relate to specific criteria of water availability, legal availability of water, adverse effect, the construction and operation of the diversion works, possessory intertest, water quality issues, the required flow rates and volumes of water as they relate to each specific beneficial use.
  • The incumbent will assess and determine whether or not the applicant has met all rules by reviewing and analyzing the information provided relating to water availability, legal availability, adverse effect, beneficial uses of water, and properly explain the development’s diversion works.
  • This position will assist with review and analyze each application and all the documents provided and determine whether or not the application for a permit or change will be issued, modified, or denied based on the information provided in the application.
  • Provide water rights training to realtors, title companies, consultants, and other appropriate groups and individuals as required. Provide support to Water Rights Bureau through participation on committees and review of rules, policy, and guidance.

Public Assistance and Dispute Resolution

  • The incumbent 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. Other sources of information researched include soil survey data, water resource surveys, USGS gauging station records, Montana Water Resources Surveys, SNOTEL records, Montana Bureau of Mines and Geology groundwater information, and the Natural Resource Conservation Service’s Montana Irriga­tion Guide.
  • Compiles research information to develop reports and create GIS maps for the general public, attorneys, water users, consultants, and the Water Court. This position must often present information that is contrary to the opinions of others and may face debate and confrontation. This position 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. 
  • This position may serve as a mediator in disputes between water users dealing with water right issues, dam safety rules and laws, and floodplain concerns and boundaries. 
  • This position gathers and analyzes the facts and laws related to a specific situation and suggest alternatives to find middle ground to aide with satisfying objectors, applicants, complainants, or claimants.  Debate between one or more of the disputing parties is common. This position must contend with opposition and antagonism in attempts for resolution. The person must apply dispute resolution techniques combined with technical water expertise, and knowledge of department policies and procedures to resolve objections. This position must maintain an unbiased position in dealing with disputes.  When complaints cannot be satisfied through negotiations, a report is prepared and submitted with recommenda­tions to the proper division or court authority. 
  • Other conflict situations commonly arise in the office, in the field, or at public meetings requiring this position to help opposing parties resolve their differences using a combination of technical expertise and conflict-resolution tech­niques.

Hydrologic Data Collection

  • This position works independently or in collaboration with the Water Management Bureau to collect hydrologic data and conduct scientific hydrologic investigations to ensure that accurate and appropriate information is available to support the water right permitting process or resolution of water resource management issues. Field data collection may include stream flow measurements, fluvial characteristics, vegetation, soils, and other hydrologic information. Hydrologic investigations are conducted in consultation with the Water Management Bureau, interested stakeholders that may include water users, watershed groups, tribal agencies, elected officials and government agency personnel.
  • The position may communicate complex information through fact sheets, written reports and oral presentations.

Other Duties as Assigned: This position performs a variety of other duties in support of ongoing Division and Department operations.  This includes managing special projects, representing the Division or Department at various meetings and conferences, and participating in ongoing training and educational programs.

Working Conditions: The incumbent is required to spend up to 15 percent of the time collecting data in the field with the highest percent of time being from April through October. The incumbent must be able to hike over rough and steep terrain and to carry flow measurement equipment and chest waders to data collection sites and/or well probes and tools to remove well caps to measure static and pumping levels in water wells.  The incumbent must be capable of working in the field during bad weather. Because stream flow measurements at higher flows may involve risks, the incumbent must rely on experience and judgement as to what safety precautions are prudent; normal precautions include the proper use of life jackets and chest waders and safety lines, use of backup personnel should swift-water rescue be required.  Installing stream gages requires strength and the ability to stand and work in cold and fast-moving water. The incumbent must have good, driving skills required for both on-road and off-road travel and during times of in-climate weather.

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. 


  • Resume 
  • Cover Letter 
  • References (3) 

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

DNRC Benefits: 

  • Paid Vacation, Sick Leave, and Holidays 
  • Health, Dental, Prescription, and Vision Coverage 
  • Retirement Plans 

If you would like further information about this position, or would like to see the full job description please contact Kellie Richetti at Krichetti@mt.gov 

Qualifications – External

Required knowledge, skills, and abilities:

  • Knowledge of the principles, theories, and methods of hydrology and hydraulics.
  • Knowledge of the principles, theories, and methods of groundwater hydrology, and groundwater hydraulics including an understanding of groundwater hydrology procedures, models, and methodologies.
  • Knowledge of state and federal water management issues and policies, and state and federal water laws. Specifically, those laws dealing with water allocation; water rights; instream flows; and water reservations.
  • Thorough knowledge of the procedures for reviewing water permit, water change, and water reservation applications including determining whether applications are complete and familiarity of procedures for public noticing, resolving objections, and for holding contested-case hearings.
  • Knowledge of the methods used for determining the instream flow requirements for fish and other aquatic life, and for determining the flows necessary for channel maintenance and flushing sediments.
  • Knowledge of methods, principles, and protocol for collecting hydrologic data, and techniques and methods for analyzing data and reporting findings. 
  • Thorough knowledge of mathematics and statistics, especially statistical inference, regressions, and probability. 
  • Thorough knowledge of the different types of irrigation methods and the economics, soil and water requirements, water consumption, and engineering feasibility of these different methods of irrigation.
  •  Knowledge of geomorphology, river channel processes, and theories and methods for understanding and determining how water use activities affect these processes and what must be done to mitigate them.
  • Knowledge of local, state and federal government organizations and administrative procedures.
  • Knowledge on how to use collaboration, negotiations, and facilitation practices and techniques.
  • Thorough knowledge of ARCVIEW, ARCGIS and other GIS software and principles for mapping.
  • Must be a self-starter.
  • Must be capable of writing high quality working drafts, final reports, and official correspondence.
  • Must be skilled in the techniques and methods of collecting and interpreting all types of surface and ground water resource data.
  • Must possess skill in using computer applications for statistical analyses, water accounting, mapping, report writing, and presentations.
  • Must be able to express clearly and accurately the position(s) of the agency to a watershed group, politicians, water users, and the media. Must possess skills to effectively uphold Department policy and positions while maintaining working partnerships.  Meetings with landowners on water resource issues are sometimes contentious and this position must have skills to gain and maintain cooperative relationships among participants.
  • The incumbent must possess the ability to communicate effectively in writing and verbally with others and to provide information, advice, and guidance to technical and non-technical individuals and groups regarding complex and often controversial water issues. Issues include water rights, and multiple uses of public lands.
  • Must be able to distinguish alternative viewpoints and integrate a diverse array of perspectives into the water resources investigative process.
  • Ability to function independently in a reliable manner that best represents the Department on water resource issues, including the ability to make sound decisions and carry out a logical, defensible, course of action to successfully achieve specific objectives.
  • Ability to understand water resource laws, policies, and regulations and apply them to the development and implementation of effective watershed management plans and groundwater management plans.
  • Must be able to establish and maintain effective working relationships with supervisors, representatives of other local, state and federal governmental agencies, legislators, special interest groups, and the public.

Minimum Qualifications (Education and Experience): 

  • The above knowledge, skills, and abilities are typically acquired through a combination of education and experience equivalent to a bachelor’s degree in hydrology, civil engineering, agricultural engineering, water resources, or forest management with an emphasis in surface water hydrology, and a minimum of three years of progressively responsible experience.
  • Education and experience equivalent and comparable to that specified above may meet job requirements and would be considered on an individual basis.

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: $ 27.39 – 27.39  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:  Lewistown 

   Agency:  Department of Natural Resources & Conservation 

Union:  000 – None  

Posting Date:  Jan 6, 2023, 7:46:34 PM 

Closing Date (based on your computer’s timezone):  Feb 6, 2023, 8:59:00 AM 

Required Application Materials:  Cover Letter, Resume, References  

Contact Name:  Kellie Richetti  |  Contact Email:  krichetti@mt.gov  |  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