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MPCA lab registration for NPDES permit holders and water quality laboratories

On January 1, 2013, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA), will implement a registration program for all Minnesota municipal, government or industrial labs that perform analysis for National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit compliance or water quality work. For most labs this will replace the need to be accredited under the MDH Environmental Laboratory Accreditation Program. 

Please note that the MPCA will not register drinking water laboratories, drinking water methods run by wastewater laboratories, or commercial laboratories. These laboratories must maintain accreditation with the MDH.

What will the program do?

The MPCA registration program will include a laboratory auditing and assistance process that replaces MDH’s accreditation program. Registration in this program fully satisfies requirements for laboratory work as required in the NPDES. The MPCA program will be the only regulatory oversight for government, municipal or industrial laboratories performing NPDES or water quality work.

Why the change?

MPCA is starting this program at the request of the regulated community. There are a variety of reasons for this change, the major one being efficiency. The policy used to guide the program is currently being written but will be similar to the MN Rule.

Who is required to register?

Municipal, government or industrial laboratories performing compliance testing under an MPCA issued NPDES permit are required to register for this program. Noncommercial laboratories performing water quality testing are also eligible to apply.

For 2013, laboratories with MDH Accreditation through December 31, 2012, will be grandfathered into the program. The MPCA will allow laboratories without current MDH Accreditation to apply for the 2014 calendar year.

The flow chart below determines eligibility for MPCA registration:

Does your lab need to register with MPCA?

What is the time for registration?

Registration will be open to those who qualify starting in October 2012.

Registration coverage begins January 1, 2013.

How do we register?

  • Step 1: Complete the application form
  • Step 2: Submit the application form to the address on the form

You will need to know:

  • Your facility NPDES/SDS permit number, if applicable.
  • Parameters and methods that are required under your permit or that are performed for water quality testing.
  • MS Word Document Lab Registration Form NPDES Permit (PDF Version) (wq-wwprm7-59)

What does this mean for your permit?

MPCA existing permits will be modified as of January 1, 2013, by the policy letter below. New permits will contain the new language requiring MPCA Registration.

What will this program cost?

The funding for this program will come from an increase in the NPDES/SDS permit fees. The additional permit fee will be less than the current MDH Lab Accreditation.

What if my lab performs analyses for biosolids? 

The MPCA will Register laboratories for the analyses needed for biosolids programs.

How is the program being developed?

The MPCA is receiving input from a Steering Committee formed from the lab community being served. Members come from small and large municipal and industrial laboratories. The Steering Committee will advise the MPCA on the registration process and forms, and on training and outreach activities. The Steering Committee will rotate on a set schedule with new members from the laboratory community joining the committee.

Frequently asked questions

We are no longer a MDH certified lab. Our permit-required tests are contracted through a commercial lab. Will this MPCA lab registration apply to us?

No. As long as your permit required NPDES compliance testing is conducted by commercial lab, your laboratory will not be required to join the MPCA Registration Program.

From what I understand from the email, as we only do testing to fulfill NPDES testing requirements for our WWTP, will this program replace the NELAC / NELAP program that the MDH currently has us doing to maintain accreditation as a WWTP lab. Is this correct?

This is correct. NPDES permitted labs will be required to join the MPCA Registration program as of January 1, 2013. Industrial or wastewater laboratories may still continue MDH accreditation if they wish to but it is not a requirement.

Is this new MPCA Lab rule due to small labs like ours which only do a very limited amount of testing having difficulties in satisfying NELAC requirements?  Or is it something else?

The MPCA is responding to the requests of the wastewater community for a program that suits their staffing and quality assurance needs. MPCA is not writing a Rule at this time, the program will be based on policy and a requirement for registration through the facility permit.

Is this something that, when implemented, is going to make work in the WWTP easier or more difficult?

The MPCA has formed a Steering Committee with representatives from both large and small wastewater facilities and industrial labs. Their input will be key to structuring this program for the needs of the small lab facilities. The MPCA also intends to provide timely responses to questions and support the small labs with training and templates for required documentation, as needed.

What benefit is there for a WWTP Lab that chooses to continue accreditation through the MDH and registers with this new MPCA program?

Each facility would have to make that decision for themselves. As of January 1, 2013, the MPCA will only require MPCA registration for NPDES permit laboratories doing NPDES compliance testing in support of a permit for their facility.

How do you become part of the steering committee? 

Due to the quickly developing nature of this program, the Steering Committee has already been formed for this initial time period. All Steering Committee members are from NPDES permitted facilities. This Registration program does not apply to commercial labs that do not directly hold NPDES permits.

Does this program include out-of-state laboratories that perform analyses for NPDES permit compliance for clients in the state of Minnesota?  Or is the registration program only for laboratories located within the state of Minnesota?

This program only applies to facilities that hold NPDES permits issued by the MPCA; therefore, no out-of-state laboratories will be included in the program.

When this takes effect, will the MPCA be doing the onsite lab inspections, or will the MDH continue to do them, or will it be both? If it is just the MPCA, when will they start the inspection process? We just went thru that with the MDH, in June. Will we have to do it again, or will the MPCA, go by the MDH schedule?

As of January 1, 2013, if an NPDES lab chooses to only participate in the MPCA Registration program, the lab audits will be performed by the MPCA. If a lab chooses to maintain MDH accreditation in addition to MPCA registration, it is the MPCA’s understanding that MDH will continue to perform lab audits as well.

The MPCA has not formalized a lab audit schedule yet but the order of audits will be to start with labs whose audits are oldest. MPCA will begin inspections of NPDES laboratories in late 2013. 

If we renew our accreditation with the MDH are we still required to be accredited with the MPCA?

NPDES labs may choose to maintain MDH Accreditation if they wish to but will be required to participate in the MPCA Registration Program to perform NPDES work in Minnesota.

What will the cost be for MPCA lab accreditation?

The cost of the MPCA Registration program has not yet been finalized but the goal is to keep costs as low as possible to maintain the program and will be vetted through the steering committee.

Why is the MPCA getting involved in Lab Accreditation?

The MPCA Registration program is being formed at the request of the NPDES lab community. MPCA is consolidating the permitting process into one Agency.

Is the MPCA now the certifying body for Commercial Laboratories?

The MPCA is not the accreditation body for commercial labs. The MPCA Registration program is only for laboratories run by facilities that have an MPCA issued NPDES permit. Commercial laboratories should continue to be accredited by MDH.

How does one become involved with the "steering" committee?

The steering committee was formed with eleven facilities and approved by MPCA management. The committee will have a rotating schedule to be established which will rotate new facilities onto the team. The meetings are public and laboratories are welcome to listen in or attend, but MPCA will only currently recognize the 11 facilities as active participants in the meetings. Individuals not on the steering committee can contact MPCA (preferably via email) with questions, comments, or topics of discussion.

MPCA has already sent out registration applications. All laboratories that are accredited by MDH in good standing through December 31, 2012, will be grandfathered into the program.

How soon will more info be available?

A draft policy is currently being reviewed by the Steering Committee. A public meeting was held in early November to answer public questions and discuss the program.

We will post new information on this web page as soon as it becomes available.


If you have any questions or concerns please call or email Sandy McDonald at 651-757-2560 or

Last modified on November 25, 2014 14:44

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