Boundary Waters Rainbow

Our Water

A Resource More Valuable than Copper.


The Superior National Forest, including the Boundary Waters, contains 20 percent of all the fresh water in the entire U.S. National Forest System. The value of this much high-quality water in public ownership is immeasurable, as we struggle to protect clean water resources – an existential issue for humans and wildlife around the globe.

Hundreds of lakes and rivers in the Boundary Waters are officially classified as “Outstanding Resource Value Waters” under Minnesota rule 7050.0180. The rule recognizes that “the maintenance of existing high quality in some waters of outstanding resource value to the state is essential to their function as exceptional recreational, cultural, aesthetic, or scientific resources. To preserve the value of these special waters, state and federal agencies must act to prohibit or stringently control new or expanded discharges from either point or nonpoint sources to outstanding resource value waters. 

The Campaign to Save the Boundary Waters and its partners monitor water quality continuously and pay close attention to proposed and ongoing activities that could affect water quality and quantity in the Boundary Waters and surrounding watershed, such as sulfide-ore copper mining,  lakeshore development, road building, and more. Issues of concern include: sulfate levels, mercury levels, aquatic invasive species, impoundment, siltation, and water extraction permitting.

See water quality resrources

waves on a shore