National Water Quality Laboratory

Monday March 08, 2021

Methods Research and Development Program (MRDP)

The Methods Research and Development Program (MRDP)

Analytical Services (AS) and Methods Research and Development Program (MRDP)

The Methods Research and Development Program (MRDP) was formed in 1987 to address national-level concerns about toxic contaminants in the nation’s water resources for which there were no available analytical methods with adequate performance. The methods developed at the NWQL involve the MRDP research chemists and support chemists and senior technical personnel within AS to transition new methods into the AS fee-for-service capability while retaining method performance and quality.

Current research is focused on emerging national water quality issues, such as addition of new priorities and to broaden the applicable range of sample types. Additionally, the need to lower detection levels, and to reduce bias and variability drive continuous method optimization efforts on existing methods. New technology and methodology are being applied to the identification of unknown compounds to assist program leadership in their efforts to identify new high priority chemical compounds.

The MRDP is also engaged in continuous improvement for existing methods where needs are identified by numerous feedback mechanisms, including technical assistance, input received from USGS Water Quality Specialists, USGS Water Science Center researchers, and others.

NWQL approved and custom methods are validated, as specified in an MRDP Standard Operating Procedure (SOP). Method detection levels are determined using the ASTM Inter-laboratory Detection Estimate. Methods are documented and published in NWQL Tech Memos, Techniques and Methods (T&M) reports and journal articles, as appropriate. Highly specialized detection, quantitation, reporting and data qualification schemes are employed and coded in the laboratory information management system (LIMS) and in NWIS.

Results of MRDP's method development and other research activities are presented at professional meetings, in scientific journals, in USGS publications, and on the Web. The activities of the MRDP are critical to fostering scientific excellence at the NWQL and maintaining its success in supporting USGS water quality assessment programs nationwide.

The MRDP unit works closely with USGS leadership to develop methods to address the highest priority water resource and water quality issues facing the Nation. Methods developed by MRDP are recognized internationally for their breadth and scope of chemical compounds, high sensitivity, data quality and applicability to complex types of samples. Most MRDP-developed methods are transferred to the AS group, which provides high quality, high throughput, analysis in support of USGS priorities.

The collective expertise across USGS National Programs and Water Science Center research programs play a key synergistic role in the growth of science and data quality at the NWQL.

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