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Methods and Data Comparability Board Meeting Minutes

January 8 - 11, 2001

Duck Key, FL





Manja Blazer                     Idexx

Trefor Reynoldson          Environment Canada

Herb Brass                        USEPA/OW/Co-chair

Charlie Peters                    USGS/WRD, Co-chair

Gil Dichter                         Idexx

Katherine Alben               NYDH/SUNY

Chuck Spooner                 USEPA/OW

John Klein                         USGS/WRD

Cliff Annis                         Merck/CMA

Andy Eaton                      Montgomery Watson/Std Methods

Steve Billets                      USEPA/NERL

Sam Stribling                     Tetra Tech, Inc.

Bob Berger                        EBMUD

Dan Sullivan                     USGS/WRD

Larry Keith                        WMI

Jerry Diamond                  Tetra Tech, Inc.

Mary Verwolf                    DOE

Mary Scopek                    DOE???

Bart Simmons                    CA EPA

Dennis McChesney         EPA Region 2

Richard Ayers                  VADEQ

Ed Santoro                        DRBC/NJDEP

Elane Streets                     Argonne, Nat’l Lab

Harold Aroudel                USGS NWQ Lab

Jack Kruiger                      ME DOH

Rick Dunn                         Hach

Mike Miller                        WI DNR

Sherwin Beck                    Tetra Tech, Inc.

Bernie Malo                      ASTM

Chuck Job                         USEPA/OW

Jim Boiani                          Dynamac

Glenn Patterson                USGS

Lynn Bradley

Abby Markowitz              Tetra Tech, Inc.

Tom Cuffney                     USGS/NAWQA

Chuck Hawkins                Utah State University

Ron Klauda                       MD DNR

Steve Canton                    Chadwick & Associates


Agenda for the meeting is in Attachment A.




The Board mourns the loss of Elizabeth Fellows who was an inspiration to the National Council and to the Board for many years.  She will be greatly missed.  Any thoughts or ideas on how the Board could honor Elizabeth’s memory should be forwarded to either Herb or Charlie.


Biological Methods Focus Group for Field Methods


The Field Method Focus Group met for the first time and discussed several issues relating to data quality objectives, elements that would be important to document in NEMI, and performance characteristics for field methods.  Common issues relating to Tetra Tech’s WERF grant (i.e., DQOs, performance characteristics, MQOs) were also discussed at this workshop.  Some examples of studies examining performance characteristics of field methods were identified for further evaluation. The Focus Group agreed that a pilot study, examining comparability of field methods, was needed and that results would be very useful to the monitoring community at large.  Some specific ideas regarding one pilot were offered.  Draft minutes of this workshop were prepared and distributed to the Focus Group which will be finalized by March 10.  A detailed presentation to the Board and discussion of the WERF grant will be included in the agenda for the Board meeting in June.


Opening Remarks


Both Charlie and Herb have been briefing the USGS and EPA upper management, respectively on Board activities.  NAWQA is supporting the Board and Council (the Field Focus Group includes Tour Cuffney, with NAWQA in USGS).  Bob Hirsch has been communicating with Margaret Heber and Chuck Spooner of EPA.  Frequent briefings to management need to be maintained to ensure proper communication and feedback.


Outreach Workgroup


The group discussed the need for better communication between outreach and workgroups to ensure we are getting the message out to appropriate publications/organizations.  Outreach workgroup is/has been working on general Board information/outreach; workgroup specific needs (publishing white papers, primers, etc.) require input from workgroups/liaisons.


Discussed drafting a general article based on the Board Fact Sheet that could be published in ET&A.


The Board needs to find appropriate places to publish workgroup “activities in progress”.


Outreach still needs a WQDE outreach liaison.


Biological Methods Workgroup


Steve Moulton’s NEMI tables for macroinvertebrate lab analysis will be distributed further to get more peer review. The biological precision paper will be distributed for wider review at EPA, USGS, and other organizations. After this review the paper will be submitted for journal publication. Additional microbiological methods need to be incorporated into NEMI for phase 2 (Gil Dichter).

Jerry summarized the Field Method Focus Group notes and sent out for review and comment. These minutes will be forwarded to the Board in March. The Focus Group will get information to Tetra Tech on citations and studies related to comparability issues of field methods.


Mike Miller will take the lead in coordinating a poster on the Focus Group at the upcoming NABS meeting in May. News brief about Bio activities need to be prepared and submitted in newsletters (Diamond). The Bio group needs to maintain contact with American Fisheries Society and see how we can collaborate further (Miller).


Water Quality Data Elements


ECOS is interested in participating and pleased that the Board is developing WQDE.  They are interested in reviewing it and will be willing to formally endorse or accept this as the EPA/state WQDE list by reference. 


Another conference call will be held before the Council meeting to confirm schedule and tasks.  Chuck Job presented the WQDE to the Council at their meeting in Dallas and the Council unanimously approved the WQDE.  A Federal Register notice was prepared by Chuck Job and is moving forward.


Discussion of Joint Meeting with Standard Methods


The Board needs to replace Andy Eaton as a Standards Methods representative.  The Board discussed the agenda for the combined meeting.  Andy gave a brief overview of the structure of Standard Methods and how standards are developed.  Both Standard Methods and the Board share common issues in terms of EPA’s method approval process and how method performance is characterized and documented.


USGS Field Activities Conference


Charlie presented a brief summary of the conference proceedings and noted that USGS has a new national field methods manual on the web.  Many relevant papers were presented at the conference in terms of the Board’s activities on field methods.




New Technologies Discussion


Katherine discussed issues concerning incorporating new technologies/methods into the Board’s activities, particularly in the NEMI and Biological Methods workgroups.  She stressed the importance of being “current” with respect to new methods and technologies and that the Board should promote those that show promise.  NEMI could serve a technology transfer function as well as providing information on method comparability.  Her presentation is on the public web site.


New Methods for Low Level Nutrient Measurements


Ron Jones of Florida International University discussed issues and concerns regarding method development for low-level nutrient determinations.  He discussed limitations of standard methods, PBMS-type issues involved in adapting standard methods to low-level detection and current regulatory obstacles.  This may be useful to include in a future PBMS pilot examining nutrient methods.


Nutrients Workgroup


The workgroup prepared a letter to the Council regarding the need for the Council to evaluate proposed EPA nutrient criteria.  Several Board members commented on the letter and more discussion is warranted prior to discussing with the Council.  The Council was informed at their meeting in February that the Board will be providing issues or concerns regarding the proposed nutrient criteria framework.  The Board needs to have discussions with appropriate EPA and USGS staff prior to consulting with the Council to be sure that the issues are correctly defined.


A nutrient PBMS pilot needs to be developed to address both field and lab method issues.  Nitrogen methods appear to be appropriate for a pilot.  Charlie Patton needs to be contacted.


Tetra Tech prepared a white paper that summarizes previous efforts evaluating existing standard nutrient methods, particularly in the context of NEMI and nutrient monitoring.  Comments should be forwarded to Tetra Tech by March 10.  The white paper may be suitable for publication.


May Scopek may be interested in joining this workgroup.  Charlie will contact her.


Accreditation Workgroup


The Federal Agency accreditation paper was finalized, incorporating comments by Ingersoll and Sample. The paper was distributed to the Board for final comments prior to the Council meeting in February. The White Paper on Accreditation was discussed and re-formatted to serve as both an outreach piece for the Board as well as a primer or background on accreditation itself.


Accreditation papers were presented at the February Council meeting by Harold and Bart and the recommendations were unanimously approved.  The papers and recommendations will be sent to ACWI for their approval. A presentation and recommendation letter for NELAC and Federal Agencies needs to be prepared.


Field Accreditation survey was discussed and refined. This will be distributed shortly.



PBMS Workgroup


Costs for the COD Pilot needs to be captured, including Board member time, Hach costs, and other resources.  The collaboration involved in this Pilot should be emphasized as this type of collaboration was essential.  In general, the Pilot was successful in terms of addressing the goals and objectives it set out to accomplish.


Data collected for COD Pilot were examined and evaluated.  A briefing was prepared for the Board meeting summarizing obvious results of the Pilot.  Also reviewed Rock’s write-up and made modifications to his text.


Tetra Tech prepared a draft report of the COD Pilot study and distributed to the workgroup for comment.  Data provided need to be sent back out to the labs to ensure that the labs concur with the data.


A Fact Sheet on the Pilot, its results, and lessons learned need to be developed. The Pilot Study Report, once acceptable, needs to be re-written for publication in a peer review journal (ES&T?).

The Pilot results also need to be presented at technical conferences. Jerry submitted an Abstract for WEF conference in October 2001.


PBMS Dog paper still needs to find a publication venue.  News brief was written and reviewed by workgroup and outreach.  Needs to be submitted to newsletters, etc. Tetra Tech will submit news briefs to several magazines, etc. on COD Pilot and Dog.


NEMI Workgroup


Phase 1 of NEMI is ready for Board testing. Comments need to be forwarded to Larry, Jim, and Dan by the end of February. An interim meeting is being planned for mid-March in Washington, D.C. to discuss Phase 2 issues.  Phase 1 NEMI was presented to the Council at their February meeting.  For Phase 2, another 250 methods need to be incorporated.  So far, it is thought that many can come from organizations we have already contacted (e.g., ASTM).  A spreadsheet form will be prepared by DynCorps to help streamline the process of adding new methods and minimize errors or inconsistent formatting.  Larry and others will prepare a timeline including key elements/tasks and a schedule for Phase 2.  Phase 2 is due to be completed by the end of FY01.  That version may be ready for public announcement and use at that time.


Other Technical Issues


Mary mentioned the Intergovernmental Data Quality Task Force with which she is involved.  This Task Force has a discussion of ANSI-E4 that may be relevant to Accreditation and PBMS activities within the Board.  She will contact Charlie with a web site link and pertinent information.


Reference material availability remains an important issue in terms of PBMS implementation, accreditation, and other Board activities.  ANSI is looking at standards to verify reference materials.  Several organizations besides NIST produce reference materials (e.g., USGS, NOAA, Environment Canada), however, most are not readily available to the public.


Work Plans


An updated Matrix table of products and milestones and resources is needed.  Charlie will send a reminder email out to get this information if it is not in recent minutes.  A starting point should include Herb’s previous table he used for a management briefing.






Katherine, Mike Miller, and Bernie have agreed to continue on the Board.  Terms need to be discussed still.

































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