RONAN — Perhaps the biggest step forward for the Office of the Engineer is the hiring of the water engineer. It is the top administrative position that will have the hands on the wheel implementation of the Unitary Administration and Management Ordinance under the oversight guidance of the Flathead Reservation Water Management Board (FRWMB/Board).
Last week, the Board tabbed Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation (DNRC) hydrologist Ethan Mace, who has been the DNRC staff representative in the Office of the Engineer. The Flathead Nation staff representative is Natural Resources Department hydrologist Seth Makepeace. The new DNRC staff representative is hydrologist Maya Roa.
Mace was among three finalist candidates for the water engineer; the others were Jace Smith and David Devine.
Board member Ken Pitt praised Mace as a “valuable member” of the Office of the Engineer. Following Mace’s acceptance of the position, Pitt made a motion to draft an in-house press release to be distributed to area news outlets.
Board Chair Clayton Matt gave kudos to Board members for the work they’ve done in the year since the September 17, 2021 effectuve date of Flathead Nations Federal Reserved Water Rights Compact settlement. To this point the Board has okayed more than 200 domestic allowance applications, including the 11 okayed at last week’s meeting.
“We’ve come a long way in the last year since the effective date,” Matt said. “It’s been busy and it will get busier as we staff up. You’ve done well as a board.”
Once Mace is at the wheel of the Office of Engineer and critical staff is on board the approval of the domestic well allowances will be the function of the Office of the Engineer instead of the Board
There have been 38 applicants for the water conservation specialist position that were screened down to 20 by the Associated Employers human resources firm. A Board committee and Mace will further screen the 20 applicants, whittle them down then schedule interviews.
Craig M. Adams of the U.S. Fish, Wildlife and Parks will be replacing Amy Coffman as the ad hoc federal representative on the Board on October 9.
The Office of the Engineer is located at 400 Main Street Southwest in Ronan. The phone number is 406-201-2532. The mailing address is PO Box 37, Ronan, MT 59864.