- Related links
- Private Well Testing assistance
- *NEW* drinking water methods for accreditation
- Program NEWS & updates
- Lab Certification Standards Review Council meeting schedule
- Analyte "group" composition
- LabCert Administrative Rule
- Certified lab lists
- Program staff
- INTRO Lab exam study guide
- ADVANCED Lab exam study guide
- Reciprocity agreements
Lab in Saukville
Laboratory certification & registration program (LabCert)
The Department of Natural Resources accredits laboratories to perform aqueous (non-potable water), solid and drinking water testing for many of the agency's environmental programs. Certified and registered laboratories must meet all the criteria outlined in Ch. NR 149, Wis. Adm. Code.
Accreditation of a laboratory by the State of Wisconsin is not a guarantee of the quality of data generated by that laboratory. Instead, the certification and registration program insures that laboratories have the appropriate systems in place to generate reliable data.
The department is not a National Environmental Laboratory Accreditation Program (NELAP) Accrediting Authority and does not recognize NELAP accreditation issued by other state or federal agencies in lieu of certification under Ch. NR 149, Wis. Adm. Code.
The DNR maintains a reciprocity agreement with one state (South Carolina).
Certification is not available for the following:
- air monitoring;
- radiochemistry; and
More information about the Laboratory Certification & Registration Program.
Annual accreditation renewal
There is no annual application form to complete. Refer to the renewal task time line .
The accreditation process consists of submitting an application form (plus any attachments as required), associated PT results, any additional application materials required and payment for the application fees. Once the application is deemed complete, an on-site evaluation is required for initial applications. The on-site evaluation may be waived for revised applications, depending on the scope and breadth of additional accreditations sought. Note that incomplete applications are voided after one year from the date the application is received.
Important: Status of applications may be verified by contacting program chemist, Rick Mealy at 608-264-6006 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. There are also lists of accredited laboratories available.
There are four different types of applications:
- initial — labs that are not currently accredited in Wisconsin;
- revised — currently Wisconsin accredited labs that wish to expand the scope of their accreditation;
- transfer of ownership — labs that move locations or change ownership; and
- reciprocity — labs applying for recognition under a reciprocity agreement.
- Access Form 4800-002 , the main application form.
- Access Form 9400-568 , the Social Security Number/ FEIN Request Form (new applications and transfer-of-ownership applications only)
- Obtain and complete one or more of the matrix-specific analyte attachments.
- Attachment B to Form 4800-02, designed for small industrial & wastewater labs performing testing limited to BOD, ammonia, TSS, total phosphorus, chloride, residual chlorine, pH, and DO.
- Attachment A1 to Form 4800-02, for the AQUEOUS matrix.
- Attachment A2 to Form 4800-02, for the SOLID matrix.
- Attachment A3 to Form 4800-02, for the DRINKING WATER matrix.
Use our conversion table to convert a specific method for wet chemistry or metals to a technology in our accreditation matrix.
The application cost is the sum of the cost for the application type along with any required matrix and category/class fees. Current list of fees.
The 2014-15 Application Fee Calculator can help you calculate fees for an application.
Proficiency testing (PT) results
Laboratories are required to successfully analyze at least one PT per accreditation period for each matrix-technology (method-analyte or analyte group identified by the department). There are several other PT requirements.
- Application-related PTs must be no more than six months old. For any initial or revised applications, any PT results required as part of the application must not be more than six months from the date on which the application was received. For this determination, the "Study Close Date" is used.
- "WS" PTs are only acceptable for Drinking Water matrix.
- "WP" PTs are only acceptable for Aqueous/Solid matrices.
- "Solid" Matrix PTs are not acceptable.
- PTs must be analyzed/reported using an approved method
Refer to the list of "deleted" methods .
- PT analytical technology must match your accreditation.
Additional application materials
- Laboratories applying for initial accreditation must submit a copy of their quality manual.
- Provide an equipment list that covers the scope of accreditations sought.
- Out-of-state labs must also include a "Letter of Intent" to actually work in Wisconsin.
- Labs applying for initial accreditation must complete Form 9400-568, the Social Security Number/ FEIN Request Form.
- Detection Limit and Initial Demonstration of Capability data, where required.
- PT results for each matrix-technology-analyte combination.
- Fees; payable to Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.
Submitting completed applications
- Wisconsin DNR
- Laboratory Certification Program - SS/7
- PO Box 7921
- 101 S Webster St
- Madison WI 53707
Incomplete applications voided after one year
The department shall void any application from laboratories that have not submitted all the information and materials required in an application within a year of the receipt of the application form Ch. NR 149.14 (1)(d).
Any time a laboratory submits an application for initial accreditation or a revision to its existing accreditations, the department reserves the right to conduct an on-site evaluation .
The Laboratory Certification Program is authorized by s. 299.11, Wis. Stats., to collect fees from certified and registered laboratories each fiscal year to cover the cost of operating the program for each certification period. All laboratories are billed in May of each calendar year.
Fees are determined by the formula promulgated in s. NR 149.21, Wis. Admin. Code. This formula is designed to collect revenue equal to the program's expenditure authority ( Ch. 20, Wis. Stats.,) by using a system of relative value units (RVU) to equitably distribute the fees among all laboratories certified or registered by the program. Each fee item is assigned a relative value. Once the cost per RVU is determined, it is multiplied by the relative value of each fee item.
Proficiency testing (PT)
If the on-site evaluation is like a "road test" required to receive a valid driver's license, then PT samples represent the equivalent of the examination required to obtain a learner's permit. Proficiency testing samples are prepared by an approved, third party vendor to contain a known (only to the vendor) concentration of one or more target analytes.
Laboratories are required to participate in at least one single-concentration proficiency testing study per certification or registration period for each analyte or analyte group identified by the department. For aqueous and solid matrices, laboratories shall analyze aqueous matrix (WP) proficiency testing samples for each combination of technique and analyte or analyte group in a laboratory's fields of accreditation. For the drinking water matrix, laboratories shall analyze (WS) proficiency testing samples for each combination of method and analyte or analyte group in a laboratory's fields of certification.
Gateway for PT providers
Via the DNR Switchboard, PT providers are afforded a gateway through which PT results for Wisconsin accredited laboratories can be uploaded to our database. Once uploaded, we have developed additional tools which will then match the PT results with laboratories in our system and update the PT records appropriately for these labs.
The DNR Switchboard allows a person with environmental involvement to review and update facility and contact information. It connects authorized users to our electronic business tools without having to log in for each.
- Uploading PT Results via the PT Provider PT Upload Gateway .
- Access the Switchboard and select "Log-in" (if you already have a WAMS ID)
- Create a WAMS ID to use the Switchboard
- Accreditation Authority Management System (AAMS) PT upload file structure
- Obtain WAMS ID assistance
Where to obtain PTs
Which PT to order
What technology does this method fit?
For those wondering whether a PT analyzed by a particular method will satisfy requirements for a technology, we offer the following:
Which analytes require PTs
- Drinking water matrix
- PT requirements for drinking water matrix
- Certification requirements for performing PCB screening of drinking water samples
- Aqueous matrix - Whole Effluent Toxicity (WET)
- PT samples are not currently required for W.E.T. testing.
- Aqueous & solid matrices
- Wet chemistry
PT requirements for wet chemistry (inorganic) parameters
PT requirements for metals
- Organics-individual analytes
PT requirements for all pesticides and herbicides (alpha-sorted)
- Dioxins & Furans
Accreditation for Dioxins and Furans is offered in both aqueous and solid matrices by either conventional GC/MS or high resolution GC/MS. Currently the only approved PT Provider for Dioxins and Furans is RTC Corporation (Catalog #PEO-358).
- Wet chemistry
PT grading & formulation requirements
Particularly for those analytes for which "group" accreditation is offered (Semivolatiles, VOCs, organochlorine pesticides and PAHs) Wisconsin evaluates PT performance differently than PT providers who generally adhere to NELAP criteria.
PT method codes
If we can't identify which technology was used to report PT results, how would we know which combination of analyte-technology to credit with acceptable PT results? For example, we receive acceptable PT results for ACME labs for lead, with no method description or method code selected. A PT result for lead (Pb) could have been analyzed by flame AA, graphite furnace AA, ICP or ICP/MS. If ACME labs happened to be certified for all of these technologies, which one gets credited? Also, if the lab actually uses flame AA for the PT, flame AA is specifically exempted from PT requirements.
Most PT providers offer either a "look-up" function (for online reporting of PT results) or a list of available method codes. Make sure that you are reporting a method code with your PT results, and that the method code you report is appropriate for your accreditation(s). The consequences are that you run the risk of not having one or more accreditations renewed annually, resulting in a potential lapse in accreditation.
Central Office program staff are located on the 7th floor of the State Natural Resources Building in downtown Madison. Contact information for the program staff is provided below.
- LabCert program address
- 101 S Webster St (use this for overnight deliveries)
PO Box 7921
Madison WI 53707-7921
Program phone: 608-267-7633
Program fax: 608-266-5226
Program email: DNRLabCert@Wisconsin.gov
- Environmental Science Services section chief
- Steve Geis
- Madison staff
- Rick Mealy, Program chemist
- George Bowman, Contract audit chemist
- Regional staff
FitchburgJohn Condron, Audit chemist
3911 Fish Hatchery Road
Fitchburg WI 53711
Green BayTom Trainor, Audit chemist
2984 Shawano Avenue
Green Bay WI 54313
LaCrosseDave Ekern, Audit chemist
3550 Mormon Coulee Road
La Crosse WI 54601
SuperiorBrandy Baker-Muhich, Audit chemist
1701 N 4TH Street
Superior WI 54880
Certification Standards & Review Council
This council is a nine-member, statutorily-defined advisory body to the DNR's Laboratory Certification and Registration Program. Council members represent a diverse group of environmental interests throughout the state including municipal, industrial and commercial laboratories.
Council member composition
The secretary of administration shall appoint 8 members as follows:
- one member to represent municipalities having wastewater treatment plants with average flows of more than 5,000,000 gallons per day;
- one member to represent municipalities having wastewater treatment plants with average flows of less than 5,000,000 gallons per day;
- one member to represent industrial laboratories with permits issued under ch. 283;
- one member to represent commercial laboratories;
- one member to represent public water utilities;
- one member to represent solid and hazardous waste disposal facilities;
- one member with a demonstrated interest in laboratory certification; and
- one member who is a farmer actively engaged in livestock production to represent agricultural interests.
The chancellor of the University of Wisconsin-Madison shall appoint one member to represent the state laboratory of hygiene.
Council member terms
According to s. 299.107 (12) (c), Wis. Stats., members of the council shall serve for 3-year terms. A person may not serve more than two consecutive terms on the council.
Unless otherwise provided by law, at its first meeting in each year every council shall elect a chairperson, vice chairperson and secretary from among its members. Any officer may be re-elected for successive terms s. 15.09 (2), Wis. Stats.
PurposeThe statute authorizes the council to provide input to the DNR on work planning, fees, budget issues and variance requests. The council also shall review the laboratory certification and registration program and shall make recommendations to the department concerning the:
- specification of test categories;
- reference sample testing;
- standards for certification, registration, suspension and revocation; and
- other aspects of the program.
Nominations to the Certification Standards Review Council are coordinated by the Wisconsin Department of Administration. The DOA Secretary is the appointing official.
- Department of Administration
- 101 East Wilson St - 10th Floor
Madison WI 53702
RulesState statutes and administrative code
In Wisconsin, statutes outline the letter of the law, and administrative code is the legal mechanism by which agencies carry out the statutory provisions.
Statute related to laboratory certification & registration
Principal administrative rules associated with laboratory certification
- NR 149 Lab certification and registration
- NR 219 - Analytical Test Methods and Procedures (for wastewater monitoring)
- NR 809 - Safe Drinking Water
Other Administrative rules relevant to accredited laboratories
- NR 140 - Groundwater quality
- NR 141 - Groundwater monitoring well requirements
- NR 157 - Management of PCBs and products containing PCBs
- NR 347 - Sediment sampling and analysis - for dredging projects
- NR 507 - Environmental monitoring for landfills and groundwater
- NR 528 - Management of accumulated sediment from storm water management structures
- NR 661 - Identification and listing of hazardous waste
- NR 700 - Investigation and remediation
- NR 716 - Site investigations - oils, groundwater, sediments and sludges
- NR 718 - Management of solid wastes excavated during response actions
- NR 720 - Soil cleanup standards
- NR 722 - Standards for selecting remedial actions
- NR 734 - Selecting and contracting environmental services
Wisconsin Administrative Rules
- Wisconsin Administrative Rules (NR 100-199)
- Wisconsin Administrative Rules (NR 200-299)
- Wisconsin Administrative Rules (NR 700-799)
- Wisconsin Administrative Rules (NR 800-899)
The department employees a stepped enforcement philosophy.
Locating a certified commercial laboratory to perform testing
Locating a laboratory to perform testing can be a confusing proposition. The yellow pages of the local phonebook will likely list at least several such operations under "Laboratories -Testing" or "Laboratories - Environmental." It doesn't take much to obtain a listing in the phonebook, however, you may want the laboratory you choose to be credentialed in some manner.
- Use our web-based map to locate a lab near you
- Lists of labs certified to perform various testing
- Contracting for laboratory services
Testing to have performed on private wells
The universe of potential environmental contaminants is quite expansive, and testing costs can be quite expensive. Therefore, we offer this information to help you narrow down the most critical well testing to be considered.
- See the Water Doctor - A great place to review the "symptoms" of your water and begin diagnosing the problem.
- On a municipal water system? Review testing records from your water system. You can access the Consumer Confidence Reports for any water system.
- That chlorine odor may not be chlorine. Many consumers report concerns because their municipally-supplied water either smells or tastes like chlorine. This typically prompts the homeowner to contact the municipal waterworks to request that the chlorination be reduced. Actually, chlorine used for disinfection is odorless and tasteless. If you smell or taste something like chlorine, it's more likely due to chloramines (a smell more like that associated with indoor pools or hot tubs). Chloramines are formed by reaction of chlorine with ammonia (from naturally occurring nitrogen sources in the water) and the presence of chloramines indicates that the level of chlorine in the water is insufficient for proper disinfection, and the chlorine level to the system should actually be increased.
- Consult the department's guidance for well owners, Tests for Drinking Water from Private Wells.
- Montana State University Q & A - Water Quality Testing for Private Well Owners - a troubleshooting tool to help diagnose possible water testing to consider based on symptoms of water appearance, laundry stains or illness experienced.
- Montana State University Interactive Drinking Water Analysis - evaluate your water based on results of tests that you have had performed. Just plug in the concentrations determined by your laboratory.
Common contaminants of concern
- Bacteria (Coliform)
Private wells should be tested at least once a year for bacteria, by a laboratory that performs an E.coli test when total coliform are present. Test again if there is change in the taste, color, odor or appearance of your water. Coliform bacteria are the most common contaminants found in private water systems.
To ensure protection from bacteria, make sure that your well cap and casing are properly sealed with no cracks or leaks. It has been reported that the presence of earwigs in private well systems can lead to high bacteria counts because of the bacteria harbored in the earwigs' stomachs.
- Other nuisance bacteria
- Iron and sulfur bacteria may also be present in well water. Although these organisms do not pose a health threat, they can affect the taste, odor and appearance of water. You may have a nuisance bacteria problem if your water has a rotten egg smell or if you notice slime in the toilet tank. If you suspect a nuisance bacteria problem, try disinfecting the well and water system before testing for iron or sulfur bacteria.
- In infants under six months of age, nitrate exposure can cause a serious condition called methemoglobinemia — or "blue-baby syndrome" — in which the nitrate binds with hemoglobin, thereby preventing the blood from being re-oxygenated. Infants with this condition need immediate medical care because it can lead to coma and death. Nitrate taken in by pregnant women may reduce the amount of oxygen available to the growing fetus. Test for nitrate if a pregnant woman or infant will be drinking the water. There have also been reported cases of this illness in people with compromised immune systems who consumed water with high levels of nitrate. All wells should be tested for nitrate at least once. If you live in an area within 1/4 mile of a corn, soybean or vegetable field, you should test your water for nitrate regularly.
- Lead was a component of plumbing solder that was used in homes with copper plumbing installed before 1985. It has also been used with brass fixtures. When water is naturally soft or acidic, lead can leach from solder or brass into drinking water. Wells located near existing or former cherry orchards in Door County may also contain lead.
- Copper is present in plumbing lines in most households. Homes that have new copper plumbing or a naturally-soft water supply are more likely to have copper-contaminated water.
- If you live in Brown, Outagamie or Winnebago County, contact your DNR drinking water and groundwater specialist to find out whether your well needs to be tested. An arsenic test may be advised if you live near a landfill that received paint or electronic components.
If your well is located within 1/4 mile of a corn, soybean or vegetable field, you should test your well water for pesticides. You should also consider a pesticide test if your well is within 1/4 mile of an area where pesticides are manufactured, stored, mixed or loaded into application equipment.
The most common pesticide found in Wisconsin's groundwater is atrazine, which is used to control weeds in corn crops. An atrazine screen, which costs around $25-50, is generally a good first indicator of pesticide contamination in wells that are located near corn fields.
The department's Drinking Water and Groundwater Program has developed individual brochures on numerous well contaminants.