Caltest Specializes in NPDES Compliance and Priority Pollutant Testing

For more than 35 years, Caltest has worked hand-in-hand with regulated wastewater dischargers around California to ensure they receive the best service and most reliable data to meet their monitoring needs. A rigorous quality-control system and a robust LIMS add to making Caltest the leader in providing analyses for compliance monitoring.

Meeting Your Permit Requirements

Are you reporting the 40 CFR136.3 approved methods that your NPDES permit requires? Are you reporting the lowest available RLs/MLs? At Caltest, we’re continually refining our procedures and methods to meet current regulations and are routinely investing in new instrumentation and staff training to provide low-level, regulatory-compliant analyses.

  • 40 CFR Part 136.3 Methods and Reporting Limits

    NPDES permits require that analytical methods be compliant with 40 CFR Part 136.3. Using CWA-approved methods, Caltest meets the lowest state Minimum Levels (MLs) and complies with the new MDL Study requirements.

  • CTR/SIP Minimum Levels

    We were the first lab in the state to meet the demanding minimum-level criteria outlined in the California Toxics Rule and the State Implementation Plan (CTR/SIP) and have performed these analyses for more than 20 years.

  • 2017 Method Update Rule (MUR)

    Caltest has updated permit-required method references to conform with the 2017 MUR. This includes EPA 625.1 and EPA 624.1 and soon to include EPA 608.3. This minimizes compliance issues for our clients.

  • Meeting Water Quality Objectives

    Are you reporting down to Water Quality Objectives (WQOs) with approved methods where it is possible? For example, carbon tetrachloride and dibromochloromethane both have a State Minimum Levels (MLs) of 0.5 ug/L, however both have lower Water Quality Objectives (WQOs), and Caltest can help you meet the WQO criteria by reporting RL’s at or below these levels.

Caltest is the leader in bringing on cutting edge, EPA required and Clean Water Act compliant analytical methods. Our performance evaluation studies demonstrate analytical excellence over a period of more than thirty years. We are the commercial lab choice for most wastewater entities in our area and have been the leading Clean Water Act (Priority Pollutants plus conventional loading parameters, nutrients and bacterial analyses) compliance lab for over thirty years. We are recipients of four awards from the California Water Environment Association (CWEA) for our service.  The CWEA is the trade association of those who design, build, operate, maintain, and monitor wastewater treatment facilities and their regulated industries in California. Their endorsement is meaningful because it is from our peers in the industry who know what it takes to conduct the priority pollutant analytical compliance work properly.

Priority Pollutant Analytical Approach and Specialized Services

Our model is to provide the trust, transparency, integrity and personal touch that you would expect from your own in-house lab. We provide exceptional total cost management by reducing the incidence of non-compliant data related to laboratory variables.

  • Compliance-specific methods, detection limits and reporting limits (lower reporting limits available)
  • Automated alert system for exceedances
  • Rerun in triplicate at no additional charge for confirmation
  • Mass spectrometer confirmation of OP and OC pesticides
  • Low-level Cyanide (1 ppb)
  • Collision Cell and Reaction Cell ICPMS for the most interferent-free trace metals analyses
  • Longer path-length Cold Vapor AA for more sensitive sediment mercury analyses
  • Lowest level total and methyl mercury by atomic fluorescence
  • Meets Pyrethroids TMDL requirements by EPA 625.1M (NCI-SIM)
  • Analysis of fipronil and its degradates by EPA 8270 (NCI-SIM)

Result: the most reliable analytical processes with the least possibility of exceeding permit limits due to laboratory or method error.

Additional Low-Level Wastewater Compliance Expertise

At the low levels required by current regulation, many waters still have matrix interference which can lead to errors. To enable better data quality we have invested in new GC-MS systems that produce more reliable data at the same low reporting limit. The client benefit is a much better confidence of analyte identification than is possible by the usual operation of EPA GC Methods. Caltest is the only certified commercial analytical laboratory providing this level of data confidence.

Caltest has the most experience analyzing low level mercury of any commercial lab in California. We have five trace mercury analytical systems and were early adopters of advances to mercury measurement since 1991. Our staff was among the first in the country to employ automation in the trace mercury technique of EPA method 1631, and the first in California to offer methyl mercury by EPA method 1630.

For ‘regular’ requests for monitoring mercury we employ a longer path length detector for the cold vapor AA mercury analysis. This allows us to detect mercury down to 0.05μg/L even when ‘low level’ was not required. When lower levels are required, we use the EPA Method 1631 Atomic Fluorescence system with a reporting level of 0.5 ng/L.

Collision Cell is an ICPMS advancement for reducing matrix-based interferences in trace metals analyses. Almost all matrix interference in ICPMS results in overestimation of the analyte concentration which is problematic for priority pollutant regulatory compliance use. Caltest was the first lab to explore the collision cell improvements to wastewater analyses in this regionand did extensive demonstrations of its capabilities at our own expense to prove this technique before recommending it to our clients. We served as the introduction of the technique to the local EPA Region 9 QA staff, and obtained the first letters of authorization to use this process for NPDES/ Clean Water Act compliance work. This advancement was not demanded by clients, but researched by us, demonstrated here in real matrices, communicated in our in-house seminars and CWEA training events, and finally made routine for all our ICPMS work that is not for drinking water, where it is not approved yet. This has been a nice success story demonstrating our interest in offering the best techniques availableand acting as an early adopter of instrument or process advances that will improve the

Detection Limits and Analytical Methods

Caltest meets the Priority Pollutant reporting limits required for permits and uses the Clean Water Act approved methods to do so. We comply with the Clean Water Act detection limit requirements from the analytical methods, and the determination of the MDL as described in 40CFR part 136 App. B.  We also comply with the definition of a Minimum Level as described in the California Toxics Rule and the State Implementation Plan (CTR/SIP). Caltest was the first lab in the State to meet the demanding criteria of the CTR/SIPand has served as a subcontract lab for others needing this work.

All reporting limits are at or above the lowest calibration standard that was used to meet calibration criteria for the analytical method. No data is normally reported outside of the calibration range. Exceptions to this are when MDL reporting is requested and then those detections between the reporting limit and the MDL are flagged as estimates (‘J’ flagged or ‘DNQ’, the State’s term for ‘detected but not quantified’ where they acknowledge that the normal rules of analytical chemistry do not allow a defensible concentration calculation, but still require the lab to provide the quantitation below the lowest calibration standard and then flag with the ‘DNQ’ qualifier.)