Protection and restoration efforts within the Chesapeake Bay watershed are based on environmental data, i.e., measurements of pollutants, water quality, land use, algae, fish, crabs and submerged aquatic vegetation. Chesapeake Bay scientists, researchers and policy makers must be able to trust the accuracy of the data they use for evaluating and managing these natural resources.
To ensure this accuracy, the Chesapeake Bay Program maintains a Quality Assurance Program in which data from over 40 agencies and research institutions are determined to be scientifically valid and comparable among researchers working in all parts of the watershed. The Chesapeake Bay Program Office Quality Management Plan (442 KB) contains additional information on the Chesapeake Bay Program Office quality system.
Quality Assurance Requirements for Grants and Cooperative Agreements
Organizations funded by EPA that generate, compile, or use existing environmental data are required to establish and implement a quality system. Typically, grantees and cooperators describe their own quality systems in two formal documents, a Quality Management Plan and a Quality Assurance Project Plan. These plans must be approved by EPA prior to the start of monitoring or data analysis activities. See the Chesapeake Bay Program Office Grant and Cooperative Agreement Guidance for additional information.
Consensus Methods and Quality Assurance
Scientists follow proven methods and quality control procedures to collect and report environmental data. Sampling and analytical methods for water quality are selected collaboratively through the Data Integrity Workgroup. Similarly, procedures for the implementation, tracking and verification of BMPs are developed collaboratively through the BMP Verification Committee. Agencies adopt CBP consensus methods and document them in Quality Assurance Project Plans. These plans are then approved and made available through the associated web page:
Quality Assessments and Performance Evaluations
Water quality data are systematically checked at each stage of production using quality control samples. In addition, quality assurance staff conduct on-site audits and monitor performance on inter-laboratory split samples, reference samples and blind audit samples. When submitted, data must pass over 160 automated checks prior to being accepted into the Chesapeake Environmental Data Repository.
Quality Assurance Organization
The Quality Assurance Program consists of an internal EPA component within the Chesapeake Bay Program Office and numerous inter-agency workgroups under the Chesapeake Bay Program Partnership. Quality assurance within the Chesapeake Bay Program Office is done by the Quality Assurance (QA) Officer, the QA Coordinator, and EPA Project Officers. QA responsibilities are divided among the following staff.