Overview of Bureaus
Water Adjudication Bureau
The Water Adjudication Bureau assists the Montana Water Court in the Adjudication of all claims to pre July 1, 1973 water rights. The Bureau examines all claims pursuant to Supreme Court rules and provides a summary report to the Water Court on each of the basins (85) in the state. Pursuant to legislation passed in 2005 the Bureau must complete the examination of the remaining claims 57,000 claims (as of 2005) by June 30, 2015. The Bureau must provide summary reports to the Water Court for the remaining 30 basins (as of 2005) by June of 2015. The Bureau is required to report progress quarterly to the Environmental Quality Council (EQC). The Bureau also provides post decree assistance to the Water Court as requested and to district courts as Water Court decrees are placed under enforcement (upon petition to the district court).
Water Management Bureau
The Water Management Bureau develops and analyzes policies on statewide water resource issues; represents and protects Montana's water interests in regional and international river basins; provides water education and outreach programs; assists local watershed groups and water users solve water management problems; and provides water right and other types of technical support to DNRC bureaus, Reserved Water Rights Compact Commission and other governmental entities.
Water Operations Bureau
The Water Operations Bureau administers the following programs:
Dam Safety — The Dam Safety Program regulates the construction, operation and maintenance of Montana's dams to protect life and property from damages due to failure. The Dam Safety Program also provides training and outreach to dam owners and engineers and assists with emergency preparedness activities.
Floodplain Management — Assists the 110 locally administered floodplain management programs throughout Montana in reducing the loss of life and structural property through wise floodplain development and in reducing the loss of functional floodplains by reducing the amount of erosion of stream banks due to unwise floodplain development throughout Montana.
Water Measurement Program — Provides technical information and/or water measurement requirements regarding diversion from streams where chronic dewatering has caused water use disputes or severe dewatering impacts.
Board of Water Well Contractors — BWWC is responsible for licensing water well drillers and contractors and enforcing water well construction standards.
Water Projects Bureau
The Water Projects Bureau administers the operation and maintenance of state-owned water projects. These include 24 dams, with approximately 250 miles of irrigation canals and one 10 MW hydropower facility. The bureau also assists the Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks with dam safety issues regarding their 9 dams. Most of the DNRC projects are operated by local water users associations that use the water for irrigation. Many of the projects provide secondary recreational benefits including camping, fishing and boating.
Water Rights Bureau
The Water Rights Bureau assures the orderly appropriation and beneficial use of Montanaís scarce waters. It administers the Montana Water Use Act under Title 85: Chapter 2, Montana Codes Annotated. This act provides for acquiring new water rights and changing existing water rights through the new appropriations program; and a centralized water right record system. Bureau responsibilities include issuing and processing provisional water use permits, interim permits, temporary permits, water reservations, notice of completion of groundwater developments, petitions for basin closure, petitions for controlled groundwater area and authorizations to change water rights, some of which are associated with salvaged water rights and the leasing of water rights for temporary changes and instream flow. The bureau also is responsible for formulating policy to address water use violations and provides water rights direction and support to the divisionís eight regional offices.