UT Knoxville’s Water Quality Laboratory Accreditation: Episode II – The Phantom Menace

Operational and Advocacy Issues Impacting the Environmental Laboratory Industry
Oral Presentation

Prepared by

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


ABSTRACT

The department of Civil and Environmental Engineering (CEE) at University of Tennessee’s Knoxville campus (UTK) provides chemical analytical services to National Park Service (NPS) water quality monitoring programs, and has done so since the mid-1990s. In 2018, NPS was directed to use accredited labs when generating monitoring data supported by federal tax dollars. To offer NPS a cost-effective alternative, UTK embarked on a mission of converting a faculty-managed, graduate-student operated lab into a fully accredited water quality laboratory based on the 2016 TNI Standard. UTK’s prime directive “to explore the strange new world of laboratory accreditation, to seek out new clients and new opportunities, and to boldly go where few small labs have dared to go before” is now into its second year. As reported at the 2019 NEMC, we have survived the challenges of startup, achieved many interim objectives, and learned many lessons through the process. This year we present UTK’s multi-mission conundrum, one of our more daunting “menaces” to successful accreditation, which was anticipated during our planning stage but is now no longer a theoretical “phantom” but a reality. We present our current approach to operating a small accredited lab while simultaneously managing non-accredited scope and personnel within an “academia” environment.