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Water: Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Rule 3

Laboratories for the Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Rule 3 (UCMR 3)

All laboratories conducting analyses for the third Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Rule (UCMR 3) must be approved by EPA.

The Laboratory Approval Program is voluntary and applies only to laboratories intending to analyze UCMR 3 samples. Laboratories planning to conduct analyses must first successfully complete the registration and application process according to the specified schedule before receiving approval from EPA. Laboratories are encouraged to apply for method specific approvals as early as possible.

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Step-by-step process of the Laboratory Approval Program

The Laboratory Approval Program is designed to assess whether laboratories meet the required equipment, laboratory performance, and data reporting criteria described under UCMR 3. Applicants already certified for UCMR 3 methods by their state or EPA Region to conduct drinking water analyses (not typical) must still complete the UCMR 3 approval steps, including analyzing the UCMR 3 proficiency test (PT) sample(s).

The steps for the laboratory approval process are:

  • Step 1. Request to Participate and Registration: Laboratories interested in the Laboratory Approval Program must send an e-mail or letter to EPA requesting to participate by August 1, 2012. Requests must include an e-mail address to which EPA can send registration material. Laboratories must complete and submit their registration material as soon as possible. The registration information allows EPA to e-mail each laboratory a customized application package that includes materials and instructions for the methods.
  • UCMR 3 Laboratory Approval Coordinator
    USEPA, Technical Support Center
    26 West Martin Luther King Drive (MS 140)
    Cincinnati, OH 45268
    e-mail: ucmr_sampling_coordinator@epa.gov

  • Step 2. Application Package: The customized package includes a separate application for each of the methods selected in the registration, and a copy of the UCMR 3 Laboratory Approval Requirements and Information Document. The completed applications should be returned as soon as possible. EPA will send an e-mail to the laboratory upon receipt of the completed application material. Required application information will include:
    • precision, accuracy and minimum reporting level (MRL) studies for the analyses in question, and supporting documentation (e.g. chromatograms, mass spectra, and/or quant reports);
    • documentation of state/regional certification or accreditation for one or more drinking water compliance methods, as well as documentation of certification or accreditation for particular methods identified in the application;
    • personnel and quality assurance information (including the Table of Contents from the laboratory Quality Management Plan); and
    • a description of analytical equipment and sample handling procedures.
  • Step 3. EPA Review of Application Package: EPA will review the application package and, if necessary, request follow-up information. When EPA determines that the laboratory's application for a specific method meets the UCMR 3 method criteria, we will notify the laboratory in writing that their application is complete. At that point, the laboratory is eligible to participate in the PT studies for that method.

  • Step 4. Proficiency Testing: Laboratories must successfully analyze PT sample(s) for each method for which they seek approval. EPA will offer laboratories at least one opportunity to participate in the program after publication of UCMR 3. Laboratories need only demonstrate performance through successful analysis of one set of PT samples per method. No PT studies are expected to be conducted after the start of monitoring.

  • Step 5. Written EPA Approval: Laboratories that successfully complete the above steps will be notified in writing of their approval. Approval to perform analyses is made on a method-by-method basis.

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Maintaining laboratory approval

Approved laboratories must adhere to the quality assurance/quality control (QA/QC) procedures and criteria outlined in the method(s) and rule language to maintain their approval status. Laboratories will also be required to post occurrence data and required QC data electronically via the Safe Drinking Water Accession and Review System (SDWARS) within 120 days of sample collection date. Failure to post data using SDWARS may result in EPA revoking the laboratory's approval status. Once a laboratory is disapproved, EPA does not anticipate any opportunity for reinstatement during the UCMR 3 monitoring period. Laboratories applying for approval and laboratories conducting analyses may be subject to on-site laboratory or paper audits.

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