Preserving and protecting water resources, and the plant and animal communities they support, is fundamental to the National Park Service mission. The physical, chemical, and biological characteristics of all water systems help to sustain healthy aquatic ecosystems, supporting the purposes of the park.
Water quality is reflective of activities taking place upstream of surface waters. In general, water quality is very high in Glacier National Park. In general, its protected mountain landscapes provide clean cold headwaters to the streams and tributaries further downstream. However, water is vulnerable to impacts from outside, as well as within, the park such as road construction, mining, recreational activities, and deposition from atmospheric pollutants.
For example, pollution carried in by rain, snow and airborne particulates is showing up in glacial lakes. This provides park officials the opportunity to integrate water quality monitoring with the monitoring of other vital signs, such as air quality, in the park.