The Barnstable County Laboratory provides analytical services both directly to the public and to the municipalities on Cape Cod. One primary directive of the laboratory is to provide high quality analyses of various contaminants in drinking water. Accordingly, the laboratory assists the water districts and departments on Cape Cod in meeting the monitoring requirements necessary for adherence to state and federal water quality standards. Water districts and departments benefit from the flexibility of the laboratory to assist when periodic problems arise, such as the seasonal and transient occurrences of bacteria. The Laboratory also provides analytical services to owners of private drinking water wells. Weekly pick-up of private well samples is conducted for Wellfleet, Truro, Eastham, Brewster, Falmouth and Mashpee.
In addition to drinking water, the Laboratory conducted a wide variety of environmental analyses during fiscal year 2010 including bathing beach water quality (over 4,300 samples processed), shellfish harvesting area, ponds and lake samples, wastewater samples from the Alternative Septic System Test Center, swimming pool and spa samples, and samples associated with town-requested special projects. Special projects include a continuing town-wide assessment of nitrates in Eastham and Truro, pollution source identification near bathing beaches, and special projects associated with services provided by environmental field staff. Another major effort of the laboratory is to provide analyses associated with groundwater samples beneath sanitary landfills. These analyses are conducted at significant savings to the towns and are collected by the Environmental Health Division field staff.
Barnstable County Laboratory is a Massachusetts State Certified Laboratory. In fiscal year 2010, the Laboratory was successfully certified by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MASSDEP) for analysis of E.coli in ambient water and wastewater using EPA 1603, and for simultaneous analyses of total coliform and E.coli in potable water using EPA 1604. At the same time, the Laboratory was successfully certified by MASSDEP for analyses of total dissolved solids (SM 2540C), fluoride (EPA 300.0), total organic carbon (SM 5310B) and total suspended solids (SM 2540D) in non-potable water. On-going certification of new analytical parameters enables the Laboratory not only to closely follow any new rules and regulations from MASSDEP and the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA), but also to enhance its analytical capability in order to better serve local municipalities and the public.
The Laboratory also continues to operate a new flame atomic absorption spectrometer and an inductively coupled plasma mass spectrophotometer to analyze for a larger suite of metals. These capabilities allow the Laboratory to assist towns in their compliance monitoring beneath landfills. The use of both automated instruments results in significant savings to the towns for these analyses.
The Laboratory continues to work as a team to improve its operation and enhance quality assurance and quality control measures. The Director of the Laboratory, Gongmin Lei, also conducts routine quality assurance checks and audits of all subcontracted laboratories. This year witnessed an increase in lab revenues compared with previous years, as well as increased savings for most water departments on the Cape through the maintenance of reduced sample costs.