Accrediting the University of Tennessee’s Water Quality Core Facility Laboratory to the 2016 TNI Standard

Operational and Advocacy Issues Impacting the Environmental Laboratory Industry
Oral Presentation

Prepared by , C. Cox, J. Schwartz, M. Kulp

Contact Information: agonza17@utk.edu; 865-673-4820


ABSTRACT

Since the early 1990s, the University of Tennessee’s (UTK) Civil and Environmental Engineering (CEE) Department has provided chemical analytical services to water quality monitoring programs of the National Park Service (NPS). The university provided analytical support using graduate student analysts, and addressed data quality (DQ) with minimal quality assurance (QA) measures. In early 2018, the NPS issued an internal policy memorandum that directed all programs under its jurisdiction to use accredited laboratories to generate data supported by public funds. In response, UTK volunteered to accommodate the NPS by switching from graduate-student based analytical support, to a professional water quality laboratory accredited to the current 2016 TNI Standard. UTK created the Water Quality Core Facility (WQCF) in April 2018 to house the accredited water quality lab. Lab director and technical manager positions were filled in May, lab space was acquired in August, and an empty room was transformed into a fully furnished and supplied operating laboratory in 6 weeks. Multiple activities have been proceeding in parallel: relocating and qualifying instruments, optimizing and validating laboratory procedures and analytical methods, continuing analysis of water samples from the NPS and from academic research programs, recruiting new clients, learning the 2016 TNI Standard’s requirements, drafting and validating SOPs and our Quality Management Plan, and completing Proficiency Test (PT) studies. Details of accreditation activities and the challenges of attaining accreditation within an academic context will be presented.