Environmental Services Laboratory
As part of its mission, maintaining water quality is the highest priority for the Brazos River Authority.
Among the many experienced employees at the Brazos River Authority are those who work in and run the
environmental services laboratory.
Created in 1995, the laboratory was established to analyze water quality samples from across the Brazos
River watershed. Water quality samples are collected by the BRA’s field operations team and brought back
to the laboratory for analysis.
Most samples are collected to support the Texas Clean Rivers Program run by the Texas Commission on
Environmental Quality. The Clean Rivers Act requires an ongoing assessment of water quality issues and
management strategies statewide to guide Texas water resources policy and decision-making into the 21st
Century. The laboratory staff work to ensure accurate and timely completion of all required monitoring
and reporting to the TCEQ and the Environmental Protection Agency. All BRA generated surface water
quality data is publicly available on the BRA’s
Other samples analyzed by the laboratory include those needed to support regular BRA operations
and those for support of intensive water quality studies and water quality improvement projects.
Since its inception, as data needs became known, the Brazos River Authority’s environmental sciences
laboratory has continuously added new analytical capabilities. With the increase in sample
analysis, the number and qualifications of laboratory staff have grown to meet those needs.
In 2008, the laboratory became accredited by TCEQ under the National Environmental Laboratory
Accreditation Program, with guiding documents managed by the NELAC Institute. Under this program,
the lab successfully adheres to national standards for laboratory operations. To maintain required
NELAP laboratory accreditation, BRA’s water quality laboratory undergoes an audit every two years
conducted by TCEQ’s NELAP staff. During this audit, every aspect of environmental services quality
system, related to the laboratory analysis of water quality samples, is audited for compliance with
NELAP standards, the environmental services’ quality manual, and analytical method requirements.
The laboratory currently analyzes samples for substances suspended and dissolved in water, nutrients,
such as how much ammonia and organic nitrogen, phosphorus in the form of orthophosphate, and total
phosphorus. Analysis is done for mineral salts (chloride and sulfate), chlorophyll a, an indicator
of algae growth, and pollution indicating bacteria, including E. coli and Enterococcus.