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MPCA lab certification

St. Cloud WWTF Lab

Photo courtesy of St. Cloud Wastewater Treatment Facility Lab.

On January 1, 2013, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) implemented a certification program for all Minnesota municipal, government or industrial laboratories that perform analyses for the National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES)/State Disposal System (SDS) for permit compliance or water quality work for MPCA programs. The goal is to provide assistance, training, and oversight to help laboratories consistently provide defensible data in working to protect and improve our environment and enhance water quality.

For more information

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact
Jennifer Thoreson, 651-757-2805 or


About the program

On January 1, 2013, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) implemented a certification program for all Minnesota municipal, government or industrial labs that perform analyses for NPDES/SDS permit compliance or water quality work. For most wastewater labs this replaced the need to be accredited under the MDH Environmental Laboratory Accreditation Program. Please note that the MPCA does not certify drinking water laboratories or commercial laboratories. These laboratories must maintain accreditation with the MDH's Environmental Laboratory Accreditation Program.

What does the program do?

The MPCA Certification program includes a laboratory auditing and assistance process. Certification by this program fully satisfies requirements for laboratory work as required in NPDES/SDS permits. The MPCA program provides regulatory oversight for government, municipal or industrial laboratories performing NPDES/SDS or water quality work.

MPCA started this program at the request of the regulated community. There are a variety of reasons for this change, the major one being efficiency by coordinating laboratory evaluations, facility inspections and permitting within one agency.

When should we apply?

Applications will be accepted for certification renewal starting November 1–30 for the next calendar year. Invoices will be sent out in January of the certification year. Certificates showing program participation will be mailed after the invoiced payment has been received.

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 referencing MPCA Laboratory Certification.

What if my lab performs analyses for biosolids?

The MPCA certifies laboratories for the analyses needed for the biosolids program.

Certification Steering Committee

The MPCA receives input from a Steering Committee formed from the lab community being served. Members come from small and large municipal and industrial laboratories as well as other government non-profit laboratories and facility consultants. The Steering Committee advises the MPCA on the certification process and forms, and on training and outreach activities. The Steering Committee rotates on a set schedule with new members from the laboratory community joining the committee.

Lab certification manual

Please review the MPCA Laboratory Certification Program manual to find information on on-site evaluation information and other program quality assurance/quality control requirements.

For more information, visit the Rules Establishing a Certification Program and Fees for Water Quality Laboratories webpage

A draft of the proposed rule will be available under the “Rulemaking Documents” tab as of December 29, 2014.

The Rule will address how to apply for the program, proficiency testing requirements and program fees.

How to apply

Applications will be open from November 1st through November 30th for the upcoming calendar year. Invoices will be sent out in January of the certification year. Certificates showing program participation will be mailed after the invoiced payment has been received.

  • Step 1: Read application instructions.
  • Step 2: Complete the application form.
  • Step 3: Complete Test Procedures form.
  • Step 4: Complete Fee Calculator.
  • Step 5: Submit the application form to the MPCA according to the application instructions.

You will need to have available:

  • Your facility NPDES/SDS permits number or MN laboratory number, if applicable.
  • Parameters and methods that are required under your permit or that your laboratory performs for water quality testing.
  • Passing Performance Test (PT) Study results for the parameters or methods for which you are requesting certification, for initial applications.
  • Standard Operating Procedures, for initial applications or if there are updates
  • Quality Assurance Manual, for initial applications or if there are updates.


The application has a section for non certified parameters. How does this apply to me?

These are for field parameters that are not required by your permit to be analyzed by a Certified Laboratory. There is not a fee for these. We are asking you to provide what methods you are using for these field parameters and a copy of the SOP. Even though they do not require certification they still must be analyzed in accordance with 40 CFR part 136 if the data produced is to be reported for compliance purposes.

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

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

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 certification program only for laboratories located within the state of Minnesota?

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

Will the MPCA be doing the onsite lab inspections and if so, when?

If an NPDES/SDS lab chooses to participate in the MPCA Certification program, the lab audits will be performed by the MPCA. The order of audits will be to start with labs whose audits are oldest. MPCA will begin on-site evaluations of laboratories in late 2014.

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 as an alternative to the MPCA Laboratory Certification Program.

What does it cost to be certified?

The cost of the MPCA Certification program will be as low as possible to maintain the program and will be reviewed by the steering committee.

Why is the MPCA getting involved in certifiying labs?

The MPCA Certification Program was 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?

No. The MPCA Certification Program is only for laboratories run by facilities that have an MPCA-issued NPDES/SDS permit or produce water quality data for MPCA programs. Commercial laboratories will continue to be accredited by MDH.

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

The steering committee was formed with 11 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.


Coming soon

  • Minnesota Rule 115.84
  • Laboratory Certification Manual(future home)
  • 40 CRF part 136
  • Guidance Documents
  • MPCA Certified Labs
  • List of labs with Scope of certified methods


Coming soon


  • Methods
  • SOPs
  • QAM
  • IDOC
  • MDLs


Coming soon

  • MWOA/MPCA Laboratory Committee
  • Presentations







Last modified on May 13, 2015 10:29

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