How Our Water is Tested

Description of Lab



Water Quality Laboratory

The Cambridge Water Departments (CWD) operates a 2,500 square foot laboratory located at 250 Fresh Pond Parkway. A Laboratory Manager, and two Water Quality Supervisors, staff the lab. They are responsible for providing lab services, both chemical and biological, to the entire CWD staff including the Watershed Management Division and the Distribution System Division while maintaining compliance with State Drinking Water Regulations. Others using the lab equipment and space include: the Treatment Plant Operating Staff, co-op students, Watershed Management personnel, and Distribution personnel. Overall, the CWD laboratory processes approximately 50,000 samples annually.

The lab includes a general chemistry area with dedicated rooms for incoming sample preparation, micro-bacteriological testing, metals analysis, and organic analysis. The laboratory is fully equipped with the traditional instrumentation and more specialized equipment that includes; Dissolved Air Flotation jar testing apparatus for bench scale treatment plant optimization studies, Biological safety cabinet, Gas Chromatograph-Mass Spectrometer (GC/MS), Total Organic Carbon (TOC) analyzer, Liquid Ion Chromatograph (LIC) and Inductively Coupled Plasma-Mass Spectrometer (ICP/MS). This equipment allows the CWD to analyze for a large variety of organic and inorganic parameters. A Laboratory Information Management System (LIMS) manages laboratory data. A Division goal is the full certification for organic and inorganic parameters in addition to the current certification for the microbiological parameters.

The laboratory provides:

  • Regulatory water quality monitoring data necessary to maintain compliance with the Drinking Water Regulations of Massachusetts.
  • Process control checks of automated water quality monitors in the plant.
  • Process control data for optimization of the water treatment processes.
  • Analysis of water samples generated by the Watershed monitoring program.
  • Analysis of distribution system monitoring samples.
  • Specialized drinking water analysis for homeowners, contractors and businesses in Cambridge.

For further information about water quality, water quality data, or water sampling, please call the laboratory at 617-349-4780 or email us.