Water Quality

Outstanding Resource Waters are high quality waters that constitute an outstanding state resource due to their extraordinary water quality or ecological values, or where special protection is needed to maintain critical habitat areas. Oregon’s ORW policy, part of the state’s antidegradation policy, was adopted by the Environmental Quality Commission in 1991 and may be found at OAR 340-041-0004(8).

Waldo Lake

In April 2019, the Northwest Environmental Defense Center submitted a citizen petition to the Environmental Quality Commission for rulemaking to designate Waldo Lake as an Outstanding Resource Water. The commission is scheduled to decide whether to deny the petition or direct DEQ to conduct a rulemaking at their meeting on July 18-19, 2019. On behalf of the Environmental Quality Commission, DEQ is requesting comment on whether to deny the petition or initiate rulemaking proceedings. In accordance with state requirements, DEQ is specifically requesting comment on whether options exist to achieve the rule’s goals with less negative economic impact. DEQ will summarize any comments submitted by 5 p.m. on June 3, 2019, in a report to the Environmental Quality Commission for its July 18-19 meeting. Please submit any comments to waldolake2019@deq.state.or.us, or by mail to:
Aron Borok
Oregon Department of Environmental Quality
700 NE Multnomah St., Suite 600
Portland, OR 97232

Related documents and links

North Fork Smith River

In July 2017, the EQC voted to designate the North Fork Smith River and its tributaries as ORWs and to establish policies to protect the water quality and outstanding values of these waters. These are Oregon’s first ORWs. DEQ led the rulemaking at EQC’s request after the commission granted a petition proposing the designation. EPA approved the ORW designation in October 2017.
The North Fork Smith River begins in the Kalmiopsis Wilderness in southern Oregon and is a federally-designated Wild and Scenic River. Outstanding values of the North Fork Smith River include their exceptional clarity and color, valuable habitat for endangered populations of Coho salmon, several rare wetland plant species and other fish and wildlife and for unique recreational opportunities, particularly for whitewater rafting and kayaking.

Related documents and inks


EQC decision on ORW petition at their April 20, 2016 meeting

The Environmental Quality Commission granted a citizen petition for rulemaking to designate the North Fork Smith River and its tributaries ORWs. This means that DEQ will initiate rulemaking proceedings on the rule amendments proposed by the petition, which include policies to maintain and protect the existing water quality and ecological values of these waters. The rulemaking process will include an opportunity for public comment on the proposed rule language.
In addition, the EQC directed DEQ to apply the technical analyses from a 1995 ORW Implementation Issue Paper during the rulemaking process.

Petition documents

North Fork Smith River


For more information about the petition or the rulemaking, contact Aron Borok at 503-229-5050 (toll-free in Oregon at 800-452-4011, ext. 5050).

Keep up-to-date 

Stay informed about the Outstanding Resource Water rulemaking by clicking the green envelope to be added to DEQ’s mailing list for water quality standards. DEQ will also add new information about the ORW rulemaking to this website at key milestones.