A system for assuring the reliability of scientific data and related information is an essential component of any environmental monitoring program and MassDEP is committed to ensuring that the monitoring data used to support the various water quality management activities specified in the Clean Water Act are of known and documented quality. This is achieved through the implementation of a Quality Management Plan for Federally Funded Programs which is submitted to EPA for review and approval. The Quality Management Plan describes each element of the total quality system employed by MassDEP, including the policies and procedures used by MassDEP to make certain that all data and information collected in support of programs to assess, protect and improve the environment are sufficient for their intended purposes.

Within the Division of Watershed Management, surface water monitoring is conducted under an EPA-approved, five-year programmatic Quality Assurance Program Plan (QAPP). The QAPP clearly documents in detail all aspects of the monitoring program including the goals and objectives of the monitoring, sampling designs and logistics, data quality objectives (DQO), equipment, personnel and training needs, quality assurance measures, and data management and reporting elements. This QAPP and supporting documentation are submitted to EPA for review and approval before project work is initiated. In addition to this overarching QAPP, individual Sampling and Analysis Plans (SAPs) are prepared annually for each monitoring project within the five-year cycle. Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) documents are also maintained for all field and laboratory operations and are revised as needed to reflect changes in methodologies. All field and laboratory personnel receive periodic training in the execution of the SOPs.  Program monitoring SOPs include but are not limited to benthic macroinvertebrates, fish tissue toxics, water sampling, streamflow, benthic algae, fish communities and aquatic plants.

The DWM employs one full-time Quality Assurance Analyst who oversees the development of SOPs, SAPs and QAPPs, coordinates staff training exercises, performs periodic field and laboratory audits, and assists with data validation. This staff member also serves as the liaison between DWM, analytical laboratories (including WES), and EPA quality assurance personnel.

Quality Assurance Program Plan for Surface Water Monitoring & Assessment, 2010-14