Environmental issues

Water quality

4. Quality assurance and quality control

Quality assurance (QA) is the definitive plan for a water monitoring program that specifies the measures used to produce data of known precision and bias. Quality assurance includes written procedures, work instructions, training requirements and record keeping. Quality control (QC) procedures are a set of measures within the methodology to assure that the information collected is accurate and precise, and is recorded and reported in an approved manner. Consistent QA/QC activities therefore produce data of known quality.

The National Water Quality Management Strategy outlines protocols for quality assurance.  These are described in the Australian Guidelines for Water Quality Monitoring and Reporting (ANZECC & ARMCANZ, 2000b).  The principles described for water quality are also applicable to other forms of monitoring such as flow and biological monitoring. The Guidelines in turn reference related documents such as Australian Standards (various), and Standard Methods for the Examination of Water and Wastewater (APHA 1998).  These sources can also be supplemented where necessary by additional procedures developed by organisations with a proven record in establishing and operating quality assurance programs.

Quality Control measures are usually an integral part of the relevant field and laboratory protocols for individual indicators.

Organisations undertaking water monitoring should ensure that trained personnel, who meet the key competencies, perform the monitoring required. State agencies presently have in-house, on-the-job training processes in place to ensure the quality of the samples collected.

Page last updated: 26 February 2011