Water Resources Program Manager

Lacey, WA, US

Protecting Washington State’s environment for current and future generations is what we do every day at Ecology. If you want to lead a highly effective, collaborative team in exciting work dedicated to managing a sustainable water supply in Washington, this may be the position for you.

The Water Resources Program Manager is an Exempt Management Service Band 3 position that reports to Ecology’s Deputy Director. The position is located in Lacey, WA, at our headquarters building.

We are seeking an experienced leader, strategic thinker, and problem-solver to manage and lead our Water Resources Program. This position represents the Director of Ecology, working hard to find unique solutions that sustain a healthy environment in harmony with a strong economy.

This is an exciting and challenging position for a proven leader. It’s an opportunity to become part of a dynamic executive leadership team that engages federal, state, local, tribal, citizen, elected official and environmental group interests to create innovative partnerships.  It is through these partnerships that we pursue our commitment to meeting current water needs and ensuring future water availability for people, fish and the natural environment.

We have a culture that is invested in making a difference. This means protecting both people and the environment from pollution, restoring and preserving important ecosystems that sustain life, and finding ways to meet human needs without destroying environmental resources and functions. Our everyday interaction with citizens, stakeholders, and the public we assist and regulate is fundamental to achieving these results. We treat our customers as partners and collaborators, provide respectful and prompt service, explore creative solutions for the best results, and act with integrity. We maintain effective infrastructure and foster a workforce that is committed, productive and successful. We invest in our employees to create and sustain a working environment that encourages creative leadership, teamwork, professionalism and accountability.

To learn more about our agency, please visit our website at www.ecy.wa.gov.  


We’re looking for an experienced leader to manage our Water Resources program. The Program Manager serves as a principal advisor, decision-maker and spokesperson in carrying out the responsibilities of the program. Washington has seen increased demand for water supplies to accommodate population growth and economic development. Demand has also been coupled with concern for how climate change will impact water supplies.

This position manages approximately 140 staff and an operating and capital budget of $140 million and is responsible for: 

  • Administration and management of surface and ground water resources in Washington. 
  • Oversight of regional section managers who make decisions concerning water availability.
  • Management of dam safety and well construction.
  • Adjudication of water rights. 
  • Protection and achievement of in-stream flows and consultation with local governments, tribes, and various stakeholders on rural flow protection in conjunction with rural water supply strategies. 
  • Approval, conditioning, and denial of new water uses, including responsibility to help find means to meet the growing needs for municipal, industrial, agricultural, commercial, residential growth and development.  
  • Initiation, development, and implementation of strategic components of the state’s water management goals under state and federal law. 
  • Budget management and policy support for the Office of Columbia River water supply program.
  • Assuring the public is well informed about state water resource issues and programs. 
The position requires constant exercise of complex policy and technical judgment and decision making regarding the management, allocation, and use of all water resources in the state, with signature authority delegated by the Director. Decisions from this position are precedent setting and have significant, long lasting, statewide impact affecting thousands of private individuals, businesses, local governments, and millions of dollars annually. 
This position establishes cross-program policies, strategic direction, and central coordination of all water resource functions within the agency and puts rules and procedures in place to guide implementation of statutes, legislative directives, case law, and water resource standards and is:
  • Authorized to administer the approval of permits, legal enforcement actions, and contract encumbrances.
  • Interprets, develops, and establishes broad departmental policies affecting other programs that conduct water resource activities.
  • Negotiates complex inter-agency agreements affecting resources in the agency.
  • Conceptualizes, initiates, develops, and implements strategic components of the state’s water resource goals under federal and state law.

A Key Member of Ecology’s Executive Management Team
It is critical that this important position maintains the highest standards of personal, professional, and ethical conduct to support the state’s commitment to efficient, effective, and accountable government.  This is a highly visible role with other federal and state agencies involved in environmental management which impacts fisheries, hydropower, land use, and other aquatic related programs. Success in this position requires the use of advanced management, communication, negotiation, and consensus-building skills with high-level, influential elected and appointed officials.

As a key member of our Department’s Executive Leadership Team, the successful candidate will:
  • Represent the Director with Federal, Canadian Provincial, Washington, Idaho and Oregon State, local, tribal and elected officials, the general public, environmental groups, and the business community.
  • Develop credibility as a reliable and accurate problem solver and source of information for local, state, and tribal leaders.
  • Work with other programs and agencies, tribal governments, local governments and various organizations to formulate and implement various policies, procedures, guidelines and rules related to Washington’s water resources.
  • Make recommendations to the Executive Leadership Team on how to implement programs and develop policies including agency direction for work procedures to ensure responsive service delivery and consistency.

The successful candidate for this recruitment will manage the Water Resources Program to ensure that the regulation, allocation, conservation and protection of water resources are consistent with state laws and achieve the maximum net benefit for the Washington citizens. In addition, this position oversees the Dam Safety Program and Well Drillers Licensing Program to ensure the safety of Washington residents; puts policies, procedures, and rules in place to guide implementation of the intent of the statutes, legislative directives, case law, and watershed planning efforts; and represents Ecology’s water resource interests with tribes, local governments, state and federal agencies, the Legislature, business, industry and agriculture and in administrative appeals board hearings, State and Federal courts.

This recruitment will remain open until filled. The initial screening will be March 22, 2017.  In order to be considered for the initial screening, please submit an application on or before March 21, 2017. The agency reserves the right to make an appointment any time after the initial screening date.


Required Qualifications:

A Bachelor’s degree in environmental, physical or natural science, environmental studies, engineering, public administration, planning public policy, political science, law, or other related qualifying discipline.

AND a minimum of:

Five (5) years of professional level management experience which includes:

  • Providing direction to senior and mid-level managers and supervisors that includes coaching, training, recruitment, and performance management.
  • Providing oversight of a business’ diverse functions combining and directing all aspects to meet overall unit, section, or region business objectives in a complex political environment.

Three (3) years of strategic planning experience, including development of annual and biannual business plans with demonstrated ability to conceptualize and articulate the future direction of the business.

Five (5) years of experience managing relationships with high-level, influential, elected and appointed officials with a proven track record in consensus building, collaboration and negotiations that reflect a strong understanding of legislative processes and inter government relations.

Five (5) years of experience with a successful track record working with state agencies, city, county and federal governments.

Five (5) years of project management, regulatory or planning experience with water resources and water quality related experience with a proven track record in managing complex projects with intersecting and interdependent timelines/ deadlines.
Five (5) years of budget development and administration experience.

Ability to motivate staff in a high pressure and high demand environment.

Experience in each of the areas may be gained concurrently.
Desired Qualifications:

  • Preferred education and involvement in scientific/technical service issues in the environmental, natural resource management and/or health protection fields. 
  • A Master’s Degree or higher in public administration or policy, law or related field.
  • A minimum of seven (7) years of experience with senior level key stakeholder relationship development including advanced knowledge of legislative processes and intergovernmental relations.
  • Three (3) or more years of experience as a member of a senior management or executive team.
  • Five (5) years of experience providing leadership and guidance (not always with direct line authority) to a large staff of at least 50 technical/ scientific and/ or policy employees.
  • Advanced knowledge of state fiscal practices.
Supplemental Information

Application Instructions:

In order to be considered, applicants MUST include the following documents as an attachment to their application: 

  • A cover letter describing how your experience, skills and abilities meet the required qualifications of this position.
  • A resume outlining your professional experience and a salary history for your last four positions. 
Please complete the applicant profile when applying for this position. Or, you may paste the text of your resume within the profile’s resume text field.
Please read the supplemental questions carefully and answer completely.  Incomplete responses, including “please see my resume” may disqualify you from further consideration.

Department of Ecology employees, please make sure to answer the agency-wide questions regarding permanent status as a classified employee within the Washington General Service or Washington Management Service. Do not forget to select Department of Ecology as a response to question 2, and type your personnel ID number for question 3. If you are not sure of your status or do not know your personnel ID number, please contact Human Resources at 360.407.6186.

If you are reading this announcement in print format, please visit www.careers.wa.gov to access the online recruitment system. Click on “Look for Jobs” and select Dept. of Ecology under the “Department” search list. Click “Apply Search.”

Other Information:
If you need assistance applying for this job, please call Human Resources at (360) 407-6186 or e-mail [email protected]. Please do not call this number or send an email to this address to follow-up the status of your application. You can view the latest status of your application on your profile’s main page.

If you have specific questions about the position, please email Polly Zehm at: [email protected]. Please do not contact Polly to inquire about the status of your application.

The act of submitting application materials electronically is considered affirmation that the information is complete and truthful. The state may verify this information and any untruthful or misleading answers are cause for rejection of your application or dismissal if employed.

The Washington State Department of Ecology is an equal opportunity employer. We strive to create a working environment that includes and respects cultural, racial, ethnic, sexual orientation and gender identity diversity. Women, racial and ethnic minorities, persons of disability, persons over 40 years of age, veterans or people with military status, and people of all sexual orientations and gender identities are encouraged to apply. Persons needing accommodation in the application/testing process or this job announcement in an alternative format may call (360) 407-6186, or Telecommunications Device for the Deaf at (360) 664-6211.