Exam Study Guide: Laboratory Compliance Procedures; and Bacteriological Sampling

Maintaining your education is important, especially in a career that demands licensing exams. Prove you’re an expert operator by answering these questions and others from our Exam Study Guide Series.

Welcome back to TPO magazine's Exam Study Guide Series, which offers a pair of water/wastewater study questions with in-depth explanations of the answers. Last time, we covered a set of wastewater and drinking water treatment questions on the topics of Common Lagoon Types; and Collecting Total Coliform Samples. This time, you can test your knowledge about laboratory compliance procedures, and bacteriological sampling.

Wastewater Treatment Sample Question

Where may an operator look to find specific laboratory procedures and the proper compliance for those procedures?

A. NPDES permit
B. Wastewater textbooks such as the OWP’s Operation of Wastewater Treatment Plants 
C. Plant Standard Operating Procedures (SOP)
D. WEF guidelines and procedures

Answer: The answer to the question is A. The actual source for addressing laboratory testing is the facility's National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit. Parameters are spelled out as to what is monitored and what test shall be used. The laboratory testing is governed by standard procedures that have been published by professional organizations and the various state and federal agencies. Understanding these guidelines and procedures are very important for the operator or lab technician to properly conduct testing needed to monitor plant processes and effluent parameters.

Water Treatment Sample Question

After a bacteriological sample is collected, what is the maximum time allowed before the sample is analyzed at the certified laboratory?

A. 12 hours
B. 18 hours
C. 24 hours
D. 30 hours

Answer: The correct answer is D. Typically, bacteriological sample bottles and chain of custody forms are shipped to the water supply every month. The chain of custody form conveys all the pertinent information to the certified laboratory. The delivery of a bacteriological sample without a chain of custody form would require the certified laboratory to request a replacement sample from the water supply.

About the authors: Rick Lallish is the Water Pollution Control program director at the Environmental Resources Training Center (ERTC) of Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. He provides training for entry-level operators in the wastewater field and operators throughout the state looking to further their education. Lallish was also named the 2017 Illinois Operator of the Year and 2018 president of the Illinois Association of Water Pollution Control Operators.

Drew Hoelscher is the program director of drinking water operations at the Environmental Resources Training Center in Edwardsville, Illinois.


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