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DNRC Headquarters
1539 Eleventh Ave. Helena, MT 59601
Phone: (406) 444-2074 | Fax: (406) 444-2684
Questions? Email us

Permitting Your Existing Dam

To build a new dam or alter an existing dam, either of which an impoundment capacity of 50 acre feet or more, you must apply to the DNRC Dam Safety Program for a hazard classification. The impoundment capacity is measured to the maximum normal operating pool which is usually the crest of the spillway.

Dams classified as high hazard and containing over 50 acre foot of water are required to obtain additional permits from the DNRC Dam Safety Program. “High Hazard” is not a reference to the dam’s condition, but rather the potential for loss of life downstream if the dam were to fail. If construction or repair is planned, a Construction Permit must be obtained. Prior to storing water, an Operation Permit must be obtained.

Dams classified as not high hazard are not required to obtain further permits. However regardless of permitting status, it is in a dam owner’s best interest, from a liability perspective, to conduct annual inspections and keep up on operation and maintenance. The Dam Safety Program is available to help any dam owner set up a program of inspections, operation and maintenance. Don’t forget to document! Should you ever end up in a court of law because your dam failed, documentation of your annual inspection could be worth its weight in gold!

Exempt from the Dam Safety Act are dams that are owned by the federal government, inspected by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, included in a mine operating permit issued by the Montana Department of Environmental Quality or associated with facilities certified under the Major Facility Siting Act. Private dams on federal property, including dams on U.S. Forest Service property are also exempt.

General Information – Dam Safety Permits


Downstream Hazard Classification


Construction Permits


Operation Permit Requirements

1.     Five-Year Engineers Inspection


2.     Operation and Maintenance Manual


3.     Emergency Action Plan


4. Operation Permit Information

Contact Dam Safety
Dam Safety
DNRC Water Resources
1424 9th Avenue
PO Box 201601
Helena, MT 59620-1601

Bureau Chief
(406) 444-6816

Michele Lemieux, PE
Dam Safety Program Manager / Civil Engineer
(406) 444-6613

EAP Coordinator /
Dam Safety Outreach
(406) 444-9362

Chadrick Hill 
Civil Engineering Specialist
(406) 444-1358

Administrative Support
(406) 444-0862

Engineering Specialists
Regional Office Map 

Helena Regional Office
(406) 444-9724

Havre Regional Office
(406) 265-5516

Sam Johnson, EI
Billings Regional Office
(406) 247-4423

Larry Schock, CFM
Missoula Regional Office
(406) 542-5885

Marc Pitman, PE CFM
Kalispell  Regional Engineering Specialist
(406) 752-2713

Sterling Sundheim, CFM
Lewistown Regional Office
(406) 538-7459