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In the course of assisting the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Geological Survey in automating their water quality surveillance laboratories, quality assurance requirements for this function have been investigated in detail. It was found that while computerization of instruments and functions can be of great assistance in operations, scientific insight must, in the end, be the final judge of quality. These laboratories engage in several kinds of activities that differ in important details. One of them had the primary mission of analytical methods development and validation. Another was an analytical facility for sewage treatment process development. The others engaged in three different activities, special surveys to establish baseline water standards, routine surveillance to detect variations from baseline, and special studies to collect the data for action against polluters. The similarities and differences of requirements in these various situations will be discussed.
automation, water quality, quality assurance, computers
Section Leader, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Livermore, Calif.