Water Rights Bureau

Wheel line irrigationThe mission of the Water Rights Bureau is to assure the orderly appropriation and beneficial use of Montana’s scarce waters.

The Water Rights Bureau 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 ground water developments, petitions for basin closure, petitions for controlled ground water 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 division’s eight regional offices.

The Water Rights Bureau administers the following:
New Appropriations Program Hearings Unit
Information Technology Program Water Right Records Unit
Other Resources
Water Adjudication Bureau Reserved Compact Commission
Regional Offices - Public Assistance Montana Water Court
Forms to file a new well (602), replacement well notice (634), controlled ground water area petition and water measurement forms, etc
HB40 - Effective July 1, 2009
HB40 Water Permit and Change Preliminary Determinations
Ownership Update
HB39: New system for updating water right ownership records will bring changes when real estate changes hands.
Find a Water Right
Water Right Query System - Search for a Water Right
Well Log Data - Ground Water Information Center (GWIC)
Watershed Data Finder - Natural Resource Information System (NRIS)
General Information
Water Rights in Montana Water Resources Survey Books
Water Right Dispute Options River Mile Indexes: Columbia River, Missouri River and the Yellowstone River
Water Rights in Montana FAQs
Water Resources Survey Atlas
Water Reservations  

(PDF file links viewable with Acrobat Reader)


Dept. of Natural Resources & Conservation
1625 Eleventh Ave.
Helena, MT 59601
Phone: (406) 444-2074
Fax: (406) 444-2684