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National Water Quality Laboratory

Friday December 15, 2017

USGS Open-File Report 94-366

National Water Quality Laboratory Profile

Jon W. Raese


The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) gathers data for determining the location, amount, availability, and quality of ground and surface water throughout the United States and its territories. About 75 to 80 percent of the water-quality samples used in this effort are analyzed by the National Water Quality Laboratory (NWQL).

The NWQL determines organic and inorganic constituents in samples of ground and surface water, river and lake sediment, aquatic plant and animal material, and precipitation collected in the United States and its territories by the USGS. In fiscal year 1996-1997, the NWQL produced about 1,440,000 analytical results for approximately 55,000 samples.

Most of the samples analyzed at the NWQL are the result of cooperative projects between the USGS and other Federal, State, and local agencies. In addition to cooperative projects, congressionally mandated programs such as the National Water-Quality Assessment (NAWQA) Program send samples to the Laboratory. The NAWQA Program was established (1) to describe the status of the Nation's water resources, (2) to identify and describe trends in the Nation's water resources, and (3) to develop an understanding of the natural and human factors affecting water quality.

To manage the workload, the NWQL employs approximately 160 full-time employees. A few students are also employed part-time through Federal Stay-In-School and Cooperative Education Programs.

Programs or units within the NWQL must coordinate their efforts to effectively receive, analyze, review, and release sample data. Initially, all samples received by the NWQL must pass through the Log-In Unit, where they are unpacked, labeled, and sent to the analytical areas for analysis. Generally, the samples are sent to either the Organic Chemistry Program or the Inorganic Chemistry Program where the samples are prepared and analyzed according to customer requests.

VIEW the report.

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