Tier 3 groups must demonstrate that they meet the sampling and analytical requirements of the CBP Methods and Quality Assurance procedures, which must be documented in a separate Quality Assurance Project Plan (QAPP) and undergo a field audit conducted by the Chesapeake Bay Program’s Data Integrity Workgroup.
In order to participate in the Tier 3 process monitoring groups must collect depth profile data, have an established and sustainable monitoring program, and have the technical expertise on staff to maintain a monitoring program.
Tier 3 Evaluation Process:
- The Tier 3 Candidate will write or update a Quality Assurance Project Plan (QAPP), with support from UMCES where needed.
- UMCES submits the QAPP and CBP QA Checklist to EPA Region 3 and the CBP QA Coordinator for review.
- UMCES notifies the DIWG of the potential candidate and selects an audit team.
- The Candidate will review and respond to QAPP comments from EPA Region 3 and submit a second draft of the QAPP to EPA Region 3 and the CBP QA Coordinator.
- UMCES schedules a field audit with the selected audit team, UMCES, and the monitoring group. The field audit team will review program documentation, observe calibration procedures, attend a field day to observe field procedures for each station, and review post-sampling procedures. Any discrepancies with CBP protocols will be noted on the Audit Form.
- The audit team will send a final report with all notes and recommendations to the Tier 3 candidate and the CBP QA Coordinator.
- The Candidate and UMCES work to resolved deficiencies, update QAPPs/SOPs as needed and obtain final signatures and EPA Region 3 approval.
Yearly Review and Updates:
UMCES will contact all approved Tier 3 groups annually (typically in the winter) and check for any QAPP revisions to the sampling methods, equipment, sites, labs, staff, etc. for the next monitoring year.
- If there are no changes – the approved QAPP is maintained and used for the next year.
- If there are minor changes (adding or removing monitoring stations, equipment changes with similar or equivalent equipment, lab changes with equivalent methods) – the approved QAPP is updated using track changes and update the Revisions History Page, and submitted to the CBP QA Coordinator for review and approval.
- If there are major changes (updating the program structure, changes monitoring protocols, major staff turnover, etc) – the program QAPP is updated and submitted to the CBPA QA Coordinator as a new QAPP and the Tier 3 Approval Process is completed again, including a field audit.