The Water Department’s laboratory is accredited in both Texas and Louisiana through the National Environmental Laboratory Accreditation Program, which is run by in accordance with the standards of the NELAC Institute.
The NELAC Institute’s mission is to foster the generation of environmental data of known and documented quality through an open, inclusive, and transparent process that is responsive to the needs of the community. The organization is managed by a Board of Directors and is governed by organizational Bylaws.
In 2006, the Fort Worth lab was the first municipal lab in Texas and the third lab overall to receive accreditation through the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. This accreditation is for water, wastewater and soils testing. The accreditation for drinking water was achieved through Louisiana in 2002.
The accreditation process involves three major steps. First, the lab must apply. As part of the application process, all employees’ résumés and backgrounds are examined, to ensure they meet the rigorous minimum requirements. Second, the laboratory must successfully participate in at least two rounds of proficiency testing. In other words, known samples are sent to the laboratory by a select test provider. The lab must process the samples with routine samples and report correct results to “pass.” Finally, the lab must achieve an acceptable rating in an assessment. A specially certified cadre of laboratory inspectors conducts a full-scale, detailed audit on site. Lab employees are interviewed and examined. The quality assurance and analytical processes are also scrutinized over several days. If the accrediting authority determines the applicant has passed all portions of the process, accreditation is granted.
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