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Laboratory Services
Massachusetts Water Resources Authority

The Department of Laboratory Services at MWRA consists of 58 employees working at five laboratory locations: drinking water laboratories in Chelsea, Southborough, and at the Quabbin Reservoir; a wastewater laboratory at the Clinton Treatment Plant, and the full-service Central Laboratory at Deer Island.

We support regular monitoring and special projects throughout the MWRA. The department's goals are to:

  • Provide quality and responsive laboratory services to the MWRA's drinking water and wastewater treatment programs,
  • Conduct timely and cost-effective laboratory tests to meet the strict testing guidelines required by all regulatory programs and permits, including the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) and Clean Water Act (NPDES) permits.

Laboratory Services supports the laboratory sampling, testing, and consulting needs of various client groups primarily in the Operations Division. This includes drinking water transmission and treatment, wastewater collection and treatment, wastewater residuals management, industrial-pretreatment monitoring, and environmental quality.

We maintain a Mobile Laboratory, outfitted with laboratory instrumentation and operated by trained chemists, to respond to drinking water emergencies.

MWRA staff work in the mobile lab.
The Mobile Lab is ready to respond with instruments for chemical analysis should an emergency occur.

We conduct harbor sampling and laboratory testing for the Boston Harbor monitoring program, which involves regular sampling for nutrients, bacteria, and water quality parameters throughout Boston Harbor.

Harbor Sampling: Grab samplers and sensors are used to take samples and measurements below the surface.
Harbor Sampling: Grab samplers and sensors are used to take samples and measurements below the surface.

We monitor drinking water treatment effectiveness, providing a variety of laboratory services in support of drinking water treatment and special studies.

We test reservoir and community water systems for regulatory compliance with bacterial levels, chemical parameters such as chlorine residuals, and algae. Results are tracked and compliance reports are sent to the EPA and DEP.

We test Quabbin and Wachusett Reservoir and tributary samples for the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR).

River sampling is performed by boat, van, and occasional wading.

Sumbersible instruments are used to measure water quality parameters in the field.



  • High quality data
  • Prompt laboratory results
  • Appropriate and approved methods
  • Easy to understand reports
  • Compliance with state, federal and local regulations
  • Reported quality control results
  • Technical support



Our vision is to be recognized both within the MWRA and throughout the professional and public community as a successful, productive, and talented scientific establishment capable of providing high quality, legally defensible, and timely environmental laboratory data and related services. Our ultimate strength will be derived from the successes of individuals shared within a unified organization.

Instrument Analysis: Laboratory instruments are used to 
detect low concentrations of metals and organic compounds.
Instrument Analysis: Laboratory instruments are used to
detect low concentrations of metals and organic compounds.


Lab Services pledges to manage its business according to the following principles:

  • Produce results that are accurate and defensible, including qualifying results when necessary, and to report any observations of apparent data integrity issues.
  • Present services in a confidential, honest and forthright manner.
  • Have a clear understanding with the client as to the extent and the kind of service to be rendered, especially in fields where different grades or characters of services are offered.
  • Perform laboratory duties in a manner that protects the environment and the health and safety of employees and the public.
  • Oppose and refrain from incompetent and fraudulent inspection, sampling, and analysis, testing, consultation development and research work.



Laboratory Services is a full service analytical testing and consulting group within the MWRA. We primarily serve client groups primarily within the Operations Division. The analytical services that Laboratory Services provides include wet chemistry, metals, organics, and microbiology testing. Related services include field sampling, technical consultation, and contract laboratory management.

Autosamplers are used to introduce 
samples into automated instruments.
Autosamplers are used to introduce
samples into automated instruments.


Laboratory Services is certified by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) for drinking water and waste water testing:

Location Certification(s)
Central Laboratory Potable and non-potable water chemistry and microbiology; potable water radiochemistry (PDF)
Chelsea Laboratory Potable water microbiology (PDF)
Clinton Laboratory Non-potable water chemistry and microbiology (PDF)
Quabbin Laboratory Potable water microbiology (PDF)
Southborough Laboratory Potable water microbiology (PDF)
Archive of past certifications

Laboratory Services is also certified for testing fertilizer pellets for fecal coliform:


Performance Measurements

In fiscal year 2018, Laboratory Services had the following performance highlights:

  • 94.7% of lab results were completed on-time (goal >95%).
  • Turnaround time averaged 6.0 days (goal <9).
  • 97.7% of quality control tests were within specifications (goal > 97%).
  • Completed 102% of targeted lab work (266,000 tests).


Team Structure

Laboratory Services is organized into teams (seven operations teams, three support teams and one management team) and operates out of five locations. The operations teams are flexible, interdisciplinary groups of certified staff who perform testing procedures from start to finish, including: scheduling, sample preparation, sample analysis, data review, data entry; and data validation. The support teams consist of client services, quality assurance, and administrative services. The client services team interacts closely with the laboratory’s clients ensuring that appropriate and timely testing is provided. The quality assurance team provides oversight and functions independently from the analyses operations teams. The QA team recommends policy guidelines and ensures that the quality standards meet both the required applicable regulations. The administrative systems team provides administrative support to management and teams in such areas as maintaining personnel files, purchasing of supplies and equipment, hiring, and records management. The management team is responsible for policy development and approval, project review and oversight, and resource allocation.


Contact the Department of Laboratory Services
General Questions and Information Steve Rhode
Laboratory Director
(617) 660-7803
Central Laboratory

Deer Island Treatment Plant
190 Tafts Ave.
Winthrop, MA 02152
(617) 660-7801

Clinton Laboratory Clinton Wastewater Treatment Plant
677 High St.
Clinton, MA 01510
(978) 365-6144
Chelsea Laboratory MWRA Chelsea
2 Griffin Way
Chelsea, MA 02150
(617) 305-5674
Southborough Laboratory

268 Boston Road
Southborough, MA 01772
(508) 424-3643

Quabbin Laboratory Quabbin Administration Building
485 Ware Road
Belchertown, MA 01007
(413) 323-6921, extension 27921

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Updated May 3, 2023