Advanced Water Quality Assurance Laboratory
OCWD’s Advanced Water Quality Assurance Laboratory (Lab) is a world-class lab that performs more than 400,000 analyses of approximately 20,000 water samples each year.
Quality Assurance—verification of OCWD’s water quality management efforts—is the prime directive of the Lab. OCWD tests for regulatory standards and also monitors constituents of emerging concern in the water. Testing identifies water quality issues and allows OCWD to act quickly to address them. Additionally, the Lab provides water quality information to regulators, water agencies and the public.
OCWD tests for three types of contaminants: microbes, organic compounds and inorganic compounds.
Disease-causing microorganisms are called pathogens and include certain bacteria, viruses, and protozoa. Pathogenic microbes can be found in unpurified wastewater. Indicator bacteria are tested to verify removal or inactivation of pathogens.
These pollutants all contain carbon and include a wide spectrum of naturally occurring and man-made compounds. Caffeine, a natural substance, and the man-made compound, TCE, an industrial degreaser, are examples of this category.
These contaminants are chemicals that are mainly metals, minerals, trace elements, and salts. Nitrogen from fertilizers, sometimes found in farmlands, ammonia from decomposing proteins in animal and human waste, and chloride originating in seawater are all inorganic.
The Lab is certified and audited by the State Water Resources Control Board through the Environmental Laboratory Accreditation Program and the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). It is also one of only three public agency labs in the nation to provide a full Unregulated Contaminants Monitoring Rule 3 (UCMR3) program, which is certified by the EPA for seven EPA methods, which include 28 trace contaminants and constituents of emerging concern (CECs).