New Waves April 2010

Breaking news about water resources research and education in Texas

Texas AgriLife Research water quality lab receives accreditation

The Texas AgriLife Research water quality laboratory near Vernon recently became the latest lab in the Texas A&M University System to be accredited by the National Environmental Laboratory Accreditation Conference (NELAC). The lab was certified as a Biosafety Lab 2 for the Environmental Protection Agency method of E. coli isolation.

This accreditation is a new requirement of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) on all data submitted to the commission for permitting or remediation purposes, said Dr. Paul DeLaune, AgriLife Research environmental soil scientist and lab director.

The Soil and Aquatic Microbiology Laboratory at Texas A&M University, the Texas Institute for Applied Environmental Research in Stephenville, and the Environmental Microbiology Laboratory at Texas A&M – Corpus Christi also each received NELAC accreditation earlier this year.

The water quality lab’s accreditation would include data collected under the Texas Water Resources Institute’s (TWRI) Watershed Protection Plan Development for Buck Creek project, but also will provide many opportunities for water research throughout the High Plains and Rolling Plains in the future, DeLaune said.

The Texas State Soil and Water Conservation Board (TSSWCB) funds the Buck Creek project through federal Clean Water Act funds by the Environmental Protection Agency, said Phyllis Dyer, a research associate for AgriLife Research.

Monitoring of the Buck Creek Watershed, a part of the Red River Basin, began in 2004 after it was determined that the stream did not meet all Texas Surface Water Quality Standards, Dyer said.

TWRI, AgriLife Research, TSSWCB, Texas AgriLife Extension Service, Red River Authority and local soil and water conservation districts, are working to identify the specific sources of the bacteria, evaluate alternatives for restoring the creek and develop a watershed protection plan, she said.

“This accreditation means all of our data can be used to report to TCEQ for further determination of Buck Creek Watershed's overall health,” Dyer said. “Hopefully, because of our research data, Buck Creek can be removed from the 303d list for bacteria impairment.”

To learn more, read the Ag News story here.

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