The Dublin San Ramon Services District (DSRSD), which serves Pleasanton and provides recycled water, is now state-certified to conduct required tests for dissolved metals in groundwater.
The testing process uses an Inductively Coupled Plasma-Mass Spectrometry (ICP-MS) instrument that can detect contaminants down to the level of a few parts per trillion.
District officials said only a handful of Bay Area laboratories use the instrument for trace metals analysis.
With this new certification, the water district can analyze samples from groundwater monitoring wells around the regional wastewater treatment facility. According to officials, this will save $3,000 per year in outside laboratory expense.
"The district has invested in ultra-sensitive analytical equipment in order to perform required monitoring as cost-effectively as possible," said operations manager Dan Gallagher. "It takes considerable staff expertise to earn the state accreditation for the many tests we are required to do."
According to district officials, DSRSD chemists and technicians run approximately 10,000 tests throughout the year on samples of wastewater, drinking water, recycled water, groundwater, and biosolids in order to report to regulatory agencies at required intervals.
In addition, the operations staff use test results to manage wastewater treatment processes and monitor the quality of potable and recycled water distributed to customers.
DSRSD acquired the ICP-MS system in 2012 and earned state certification for trace metal analysis of wastewater in 2013. The lab earned a separate certification required to test for metals in groundwater this year.
The State Water Resources Control Board's Environmental Laboratory Accreditation Program (ELAP) has certified the water district's lab in 54 fields of testing.
In order to obtain a certification for a new test, a laboratory must develop standard operating procedures for collecting and analyzing samples and documenting results, pass performance evaluation studies for all applicable test parameters, and meet quality control requirements for accuracy and precision.
ELAP re-certifies the DSRSD lab every two years.