Water Analysis Laboratory

Affiliation(s) ContactLocation
DHS Mary Miller Reno

Mary Miller in the Water Analysis Lab
Mary Miller in the Water Analysis Lab
DRI's Water Analysis Laboratory in Reno, Nevada, was established to provide reliable, high quality chemical analysis for environmental water samples. The laboratory has over 30 years of experience and provides analytical services for a wide variety of customers, including federal, local and state government agencies, private industry and other commercial laboratories.

The laboratory specializes in low-level (ppb) nitrogen, phosphorus and carbon nutrient analysis of environmental water samples and has provided those analyses for numerous DRI projects in Nevada and California, including Lake Tahoe and Walker Lake watersheds. Due to the diversity of interests and expertise within DRI's Division of Hydrologic Sciences, personnel have gained valuable knowledge and experience in the analysis of many different sample types. DRI's water laboratory has participated in projects ranging from precipitation chemistry to playa lake characterization studies.


The Water Analysis Laboratory is EPA-Certified in Nevada through the Nevada Department of Environmental Protection (NDEP) Bureau of Water Quality Planning, Carson City, Nevada for parameters regulated under the Safe and Clean Water Acts. As a requirement for certification, the laboratory has participated in quarterly performance evaluation studies (analyzing blind samples for certified analytes) for over 20 years. The laboratory has also participated in the USGS Standard Reference Sample Project (analyzing blind samples prepared from natural-matrix waters) in the spring and fall each year for over 20 years.


Anions and Nutrients

  • Alpkem RFA 300 and Technicon Automated Colorimetric Analyzers are used routinely for the analysis of: NO2, NO3, NH3, TKN, TPO4, OPO4, and SiO2. The Alpkem RFA is equipped with an Astoria-Pacific 305D high sensitivity photometer detector. Both systems are controlled by Windows-based operating systems.
  • Dionex Model ICS 2000 Ion Chromatograph is used for the automated analysis of Cl, Br, SO4. This instrument has the capability of simultaneously determining all of the anions mentioned using less than a milliliter of sample to the parts per billion level.
  • Brinkmann Metrohm Titrando Automated Titrator capable of potentiometric titrations to fixed or inflection end points is used in the determination of CO3, HCO3, pH, EC, and F.
  • OI Analytical 1030W Carbon Analyzer is routinely used for determination of DOC and TOC in water samples.

Trace Metals and Major Cations

  • Thermo Elemental SOLAAR M5 Atomic Absorption Spectrometer with air-acetylene flame and vapor generation capabilities is used for major cation and many trace metal analyses.
  • Thermo IRIS Intrepid Inductively Coupled Plasma Emission Specrometer (ICP-AES) complements the capabilities of the atomic absorption spectrometer and permits lower detection limits for many trace metals.

Quality Assurance

The laboratory maintains an extensive quality control program to ensure data integrity, precision and reliability of its activities. Program objectives include: maintaining a continuing assessment of the accuracy and precision of data generated; providing a record of instrument performance for data validation and maintenance; ensuring sampling integrity; maintaining accurate records; and producing high quality analytical results. The following describes only a portion of the quality control program.

  1. Full-time laboratory personnel have a minimum of a bachelor degree in a scientific area and five years of experience in chemical analysis.
  2. EPA-approved procedures are used for all drinking water and wastewater samples. The laboratory participates in USGS and EPA analytical evaluation programs several times each year to confirm the accuracy of its analytical procedures. Precision is monitored by multi-point calibration curves and by conducting spiked and duplicate analyses on ten percent of all samples analyzed.
  3. Standard operating procedures include test descriptions, equipment, calibration requirements, analytical procedures, quantification procedures and acceptance criteria. These procedures are reviewed and updated as necessary to reflect regulatory requirements and feedback from field and laboratory audit results.
  4. Laboratory data are stored on secure Sun file server systems that provide a central area for storage of all field and laboratory data. All databases are structured to permit easy output and comparison of the various databases.


For information on the water analysis lab please contact:

Mary Miller, Assistant Research Chemist
Office: 775/673-7451
2215 Raggio Parkway
Reno, NV 89512
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