New Mexico
Environment Department

Contact Information:
(505) 827-2855 MAIN // 1-800-219-6157 (toll free)
Environmental Emergencies:
505-827-9329 (24 hrs)

Surface Water Quality

Quality Assurance and Quality Control

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requires the SWQB to establish and implement a Quality System defined in EPA Order 5360.1 A2, Policy and Program Requirements for the Mandatory Agency-wide Quality System (EPA 2000), 48 CFR 46, 40 CFR 31, 40 CFR 35; and other mechanisms, such as consent agreements in enforcement actions.  The EPA policy is based on the national consensus standard, ANSI/ASQC E4-1994, Specifications and Guidelines for Environmental Data Collection and Environmental Technology Programs.

EPA requires organizations (i.e. SWQB) to document the Quality System through a Quality Management Plan (QMP) and requires all organizations funded by EPA, that collect environmental data used in decision making, be supported by an EPA approved Quality Assurance Project Plan (QAPP).

In some cases, a QMP and a QAPP may be combined into a single document that contains both organizational and project-specific elements. The Quality Assurance (QA) Manager for the EPA organization sponsoring the work has the authority to determine when a single document is applicable. 

For further information, contact Miguel Montoya, Quality Assurance Officer. 

Quality Management Plans
A QMP may be viewed as the ‘umbrella’ document under which individual projects are conducted.

The QMP is a management tool that documents an organization’s quality system for planning, implementing, documenting, and assessing the effectiveness of activities supporting environmental data operations and other environmental programs. The QMP is used to demonstrate conformance to Part A requirements of ANSI/ASQC E4-1994.

The SWQB shall review its QMP at least annually to reconfirm the suitability and effectiveness of the approved quality management practices. The process of developing, annually reviewing, and revising (as needed) the QMP, allows an opportunity for management and staff to clarify roles and responsibilities, address problem areas, and institutionalize improvements.

EPA requirements for QMP are defined in EPA Requirements for Quality Management Plans (QA/R-2) (EPA 2001)

Quality Assurance Project Plans
A QAPP is the ‘blueprint’ by which individual projects involving environmental data are implemented and assessed and how specific quality assurance and quality control activities will be applied during a project.

The EPA has developed the QAPP as a tool for project managers and planners to document the type and quality of data needed for environmental decisions and to describe the methods for collecting and assessing those data. The QAPP integrates all technical and quality aspects of a project, including planning, implementation, and assessment. The QAPP is used to demonstrate conformance to Part B requirements of ANSI/ASQC E4-1994.

The QAPP review and approval process vary by project and can be approved by EPA for up to 36-months.  However, should there be any changes to the project at any time, a revised QAPP must be submitted to EPA for review and approval. If a project continues under a new cooperative agreement and there are no substantive technical or programmatic changes to project, a letter with SWQB approval needs to be submitted to EPA stating that no changes are needed. The letter or revised QAPP is due at least 60 days prior to the expiration date of the EPA approved QAPP

EPA requirements for QAPP are defined in EPA Requirements for Quality Assurance Project Plans (QA/R-5) (EPA 2001).

Link to a list of EPA approved SWQB QAPPs.

Field Sampling Plans
Field Sampling Plans (FSPs) serve as the comprehensive planning record for each individual project. The FSP incorporates and documents the results of the Planning Process for Environmental Data Collection Activities section of the SWQB’s QMP for Environmental Data Operations.

Not all projects require a FSP. If a project specific QAPP has sufficient details regarding the sampling plan then a separate FSP is not needed (see current SOP on Developing FSPs for details). The SWQB QAPP for Water Quality Management Programs outlines water quality monitoring activities which require additional information through an FSP.

Standard Operating Procedures
For routine work across multiple projects the SWQB has established Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) to maintain consistency with data collection activities.  All personnel who collect environmental data must be familiar with these protocols, sign acknowledgment forms associated with specific SWQB SOPs and collect data in accordance with the procedures as they are defined in the SOPs.  Sampling and analytical techniques shall conform with NMAC unless otherwise specified by the Water Quality Control Commission pursuant to a petition to amend these standards (i.e. NMAC).

A list of SWQB SOPs can be found at /surface-water-quality/sop/.

Other Resources
Regulations 40 CFR 31.45

40 CFR 35

EPA Order 5360.1 A2. CIO 2105.0. (EPA 2000)

Standards for Interstate and Intrastate Surface Waters (20.6.4 NMAC)

References EPA Quality System for Environmental Data and Technology (2002). EPA/240/R-02-003

EPA Requirements for Quality Management Plans (QA/R-2) (EPA 2001)

EPA Requirements for Quality Assurance Project Plans (QA/R-5) (EPA 2001)

Water Quality Management Plan/Continuing Planning Process (WQMP/CPP)

2019 WQCC-approved Nonpoint Source Management Plan