The Office of Water Resources shall be headed by and shall be under the direction, supervision, and control of an officer who shall be known and designated as the Division Chief of the Alabama Office of Water Resources. The division chief shall be appointed by the director, with the approval of the Governor, and shall report to, and be under the direct supervision of, the director. The division chief shall be a person knowledgeable in the fields of water resource management, development, and conservation. The division chief shall be a state Merit System employee. The salary of the division chief shall be set in accordance with state law. Vacancies in the position of division chief shall be filled in the same manner as set forth above; provided, however, that prior to the appointment and approval of a division chief, the director may appoint an acting division chief or may assume the responsibilities of, and serve in the capacity as, division chief until a division chief is selected in accordance with the provisions of this chapter.