Quality Assurance and Quality Control on Citizen Monitoring Team Results

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Brown, Eric
Buratti, James

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City of Austin Environmental and Conservation Services Department


Citizen involvement is a relatively new approach to water monitoring. Local citizens are provided with the equipment and training to perform water quality testing independently of any professional agency. However, the questions arise as to the accuracy of tests performed by these citizens and whether or not they produce conclusive and quality data. This study was undertaken to assess this quality assurance and quality control (QA/QC) of citizen water quality monitor test results. Citizen conclusions were examined to determine their significance and reliability by comparing their results against that of the Environmental and Conservation Services Department (ECSD) QA/QC team. Citizen findings were also compared against that of professional water testing agencies. The main focus of this study was determining the accuracy of HACH kits and the other equipment used by citizen monitors. The QA/QC team resolved the question by varying their approach. In Section 1, samples of known concentrations were sent to the Lower Colorado River Authority Laboratory (LCRA), the Walnut Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant Laboratory (WCWWTP), six Austin Community College students (ACC), and fourteen ECSD employees for testing and determination of parameter levels. In Section 2, known concentrations were tested by the QA/QC team. These standards were run 'on a HACH DR2000 Spectrophotometer and HACH kits. Finally, in Section 3, water from 13 sites was tested by ECSD citizen monitoring teams and the QA/QC team for six parameters. This data was then compared. Comparisons were also run between different methods and equipment used solely by the QA/QC team. Each section contains a comparison of the studies outlined above. Results, discussion, and recommendations are provided in each section.


This report compares the results of water quality data between citizen science efforts and laboratory efforts.

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