Community Aquatic Research Laboratory
ALLARM's Community Aquatic Research Laboratory (CARL) is a key component of its technical assistance program for watershed organization. Through CARL, ALLARM provides quality assurance/quality control assistance to watershed organizations and conducts laboratory analysis for local water resources. CARL opened in 2000 with support from R.F. Shangraw Jr. ('81), the first Dickinson College Environmental Studies certificate graduate.
Another CARL function is kit analysis. ALLARM performs extensive testing of monitoring equipment from different manufacturers in order to recommend the best available equipment to watershed organizations.
Quality Assurance / Quality Control
Quality assurance and quality control (QA/QC) are important components of every successful monitoring program. In order to ensure that volunteer monitors are collecting the most scientifically robust data possible, ALLARM provides several different QA/QC resources including: training requirements, care/calibration of equipment, replicates, documentation of procedures, and split sample analysis.
1. Training Requirements: each volunteer monitor who undergoes an ALLARM training will be taught the proper protocol for performing effective stream monitoring.
2. Care/Calibration of equipment: at the ALLARM trainings, volunteers will be taught the proper maintenance and calibration routine for their equipment.
3. Replicates: volunteer monitors are instructed to perform replicates of their chemical monitoring. A percent relative difference between the results of the replicates is then taken to ensure that the results are within the acceptable range.
4. Documentation of procedures: consistency is a key aspect of volunteer monitoring. ALLARM suggests that monitors and their groups should have written documentation detailing their protocols as well as their QA/QC measures. This ensures that all monitors are continually using the same methods and techniques.
5. Split sample analysis: each monitor is asked to send in their results as well as a water sample, biannually, so that ALLARM can repeat the tests in their lab to ensure that the monitors are using their equipment correctly and obtaining the best data possible.