Water Rights and Instream Flow Specialist

Montana Department of Fish Wildlife & Parks
Helena, MT, United States
Position Type: 
Organization Type: 
Experience Level: 
0-2 Years
Degree Required: 
Advanced Degree (Master's or JD)


Please note: this job post has expired! To the best of our knowledge, this job is no longer available and this page remains here for archival purposes only.

Please remember to attach the required supplemental questions, cover letter, writing sample, and resume listed in this announcement. Applications missing the requested documents will be considered incomplete and may not progress further in the process. We will not review the application education and experience portion, we will only review the requested documents listed above; however, you must apply through the State of Montana Career site. This position closes at 11:59 PM Mountain Time on OCTOBER 22, 2020. 


Supplemental Questions:
1. Describe any special training you have received and work experiences that you have had related to hydrology, streamflow measurement, investigating water rights, water law, water adjudication, water leasing or reservation of water for instream flow. Describe any training, experience, or special qualities that you have that are important for us to consider when evaluating you as a candidate for this position.

Writing Sample:
1. Please submit a copy of a project report, issue briefing paper or other relevant work product.

Special Information:

This position requires that work be performed both indoors and outdoors on a regular basis. Indoors the employee is regularly required to stand, sit, and operate a computer and telephone. May sit for extended periods while reviewing detailed data. Must be able to move boxes weighing up to 30 pounds. Must be able to work outdoors in streams with waist deep water and swift currents. Must be able to hike several miles over rough terrain carrying loads up to 30 pounds. Typically work regular business hours and a standard 40-hour work week, although days performing work outdoors and/or travelling up to 12 hours will occur on occasion.

Identity of applicants who become finalists may be released to the public if the Department deems it necessary. Employees who exceed 1,040 hours in a calendar year are also provided health, dental and life insurance. Other benefits include retirement, paid vacation, sick and holidays. This position may be covered by a VEBA (Voluntary Employee Beneficiary Association).

A successful applicant will be subject to a background investigation.

Women and minorities are under-represented in this job category and are encouraged to apply.


Job Duties:

The Water Rights and Instream Flow Specialist serves as a technical, scientific and policy resource to the Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks on matters related to water and water rights. The position is responsible for changing water rights to instream flow, protection of instream rights, and developing reservoir operation recommendations. The position evaluates proposed water-related legislation and administrative rules and contributes to preparation of a water leasing progress report. The position works extensively with legal counsel on water rights adjudication matters including review of water right claims, decrees, amendments, permits and change applications, provides recommendations on filing of objections, negotiates resolution of objections and prepares affidavits and other documents and serves as agency’s expert witness in water-related hearings and court proceedings. Position also may investigate suspected water-user violations and file formal complaints with DNRC.

In support of various duties, this position conducts field investigations of water rights, analyzes water use with GIS software using historical aerial photography, and prepares detailed reports on the extent of historic water use. The position delivers technical assistance to local communities, watershed groups, and individuals on water issues, low flow planning, and flow protection and enhancement and aids in development of local drought management plans and candidate conservation agreements. Identifies and develops, implements and monitors instream flow restoration or enhancement projects including water leases. The position must develop effective working relationships with water commissioners, water users and water managers on streams, including making call on junior water rights when appropriate. The position evaluates and provides comment on new or relicensing of hydropower projects.



: Knowledge, Skills and Abilities:

This position requires knowledge of the principles, theories, and methods of surface and groundwater hydrology and hydraulics including collecting hydrologic and analyzing data and reporting findings with an emphasis on statistical inference, regressions, and probability. Applicants must be knowledgeable in 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 along with geomorphology, river channel processes, and theories and methods for understanding and determining how water use activities affect these processes. Knowledge of laws regarding water allocation; water rights and instream flows is required. Applicants must possess skill in using water measuring equipment, laser level and computer applications including Microsoft Office (Excel, Access, Word) and GIS mapping software.

This position requires the ability to communicate effectively in writing and verbally with others and to provide information to technical and non-technical individuals and groups regarding complex and often controversial water issues. The applicant must have the ability to function independently while making sound decisions without supervision and carry out a logical, defensible, course of action to successfully achieve specific objectives.

The main knowledge and skill areas required for the job include:
• Knowledge of western water law and the prior appropriation doctrine
• Knowledge of various methods to measure and estimate stream flow
• Some familiarity with standard stream flow diversion structures and function
• Experience with applying general hydrologic and geomorphic principles to solve problems
• Awareness of principles and methods of instream flow quantification for fisheries and other public needs
• Excellent negotiation and facilitation skills
• Excellent verbal and written communication skills
• Ability to work on multiple, complex tasks, and to complete those tasks on schedule
• Ability to work effectively with peers, farmers, ranchers, anglers, developers, government entities (local, state, Tribal, and federal), elected officials
• Basic knowledge of fisheries management, and the habitat needs of fish and aquatic life

The behaviors required of the incumbent to perform the above duties include:
• Is very organized,
• Works on complex tasks efficiently
• Works independently without a lot of supervision
• Completes tasks on schedule, within budget, and with a high degree of quality
• Is product oriented
• Knows and uses the proper tools for the proper situation
• Conceptualizes problems, compiles and analyzes data, interprets results, and presents conclusions and recommendations in an appropriate format
• Listens attentively and with the desire to understand issues and problems
• Solves complex problems that are somewhat constrained by the existing structure of water law through creative solutions
• Has excellent “people skills”
• Is comfortable working in public forums on often controversial issues
• Is comfortable with critical review by peers and the public and responds to often hostile criticism or cross examination by competing interests in a professional and calm manner.
• Maintains high degree of professionalism and objectivity in all aspects of job.


Minimum Qualifications:

The knowledge, skills, and abilities of this position are normally attained through combination of education and experience equivalent to a master’s degree in natural resource or fish and wildlife management, hydrology, physical or earth sciences, or civil engineering, plus 2 years directly related experience. Other combinations of education and experience will be considered on a case-by-case basis.