"Quality assurance" refers to a system of activities that ensure an organization's processes achieve goals and objectives. It involves setting policy, procedures and control measures that address an organization's operations.
Agreements with agencies that provide funding for Division of Water (DOW) programs (like the Environmental Protection Agency [EPA]) require specific documentation on quality systems. DOW also requires certain quality requirements for contractors that perform work for the Division. These requirements are specified in the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), under the following titles:
Within the CFR regulations are statements on developing and maintaining quality documents -- the quality management plan (QMP) and quality assurance project plans (QAPP). Agencies receiving funding are required to prepare these documents based on program objectives and operational activities. The Department for Environmental Protection has a Quality Management Plan
[4 MB] that guides all quality assurance within the department.
As with all programs within the Department for Environmental Protection, DOW participates in a quality management system. A team of department scientists sets quality policies and guidelines for departmental activities and operations which are then followed at the agency level.
All environmental data collection projects must develop a QAPP. These plans cover specifics of the project; who will do each part of the project, the timeline for the project, how each task will be done, and the documentation and reporting requirements. QAPPs are also developed for modelling and other Division planning and assessment methods.
QAPPs must be submitted whenever DOW funds a project or issues a certification. Watershed plans developed with 319(h)
funds require a QAPP be submitted and approved before monitoring can occur. The laboratory certification program also requires that documentation and data analysis reports be submitted as requirements of the certificate.
All program activities must also designate specific SOPs, for either administrative responsibilities or for environmental monitoring planning. All individual tasks within a project or program must develop or follow existing SOPs that have been reviewed and approved by DOW and DEP quality assurance staff. An SOP describes a specific method or procedure. SOP manuals are important tools for meeting quality assurance practices. Many SOPs used by DOW are developed for internal program use; however, partner agencies or outside organizations may also utilize these SOPs for work done for DOW. The use of these SOPs by outside organizations and agencies should be coordinated with a DOW scientist to ensure that the correct application of these protocols is utilized.
A list of SOPs related to water monitoring and assessment can be found below.