History of the Water Right Records Unit
The Montana Water Use act (Title 85, Chapter 2, MCA) of 1973 established a centralized records system. Prior to 1973, water rights were recorded, but not consistently, in county courthouses throughout the state.
DNRC Water Rights Bureau maintains the central records system for all permits, changes and certificates issued after June 30, 1973 and for all existing water rights files as part of the statewide adjudication.
Research for Water Rights
- NRIS Water Right Query System – research water right numbers and view images of water rights that have been scanned.
- of water rights by basin
- Requesting a copy of a water right abstract
- Statewide scanned images of the Water Resources Survey Books and Field Notes
- Statewide Pre-1973 Decree Index
Water Right Files Maintained by Water Right Records Unit
- Adjudication – files developed before 1973
- New Appropriations – files developed after 1973
- Authorization to Change files
- Powder River files
Services Offered by Water Right Records Unit
- PDF images of water right files
- On site review of original file
- Paper copies of files will be sent to a printer and a charge will be associated to that cost.
- Electronic copies of water right abstracts
- CD copies of decrees
If you need further assistance, please contact: Nancy Hughes, Records Program Manager, (406) 444-6694
- Water Right Forms
Click here for water right forms
Water Rights rules:
Deficiency letters and termination:
Correct and complete determination:
Permit application requirements:
Permit and change applications: