Quality Assurance Program

Title Name / Email Phone
Quality Assurance Officer Vacant (406) 444-6749
Administrative Assistant Timmie Smart (406) 444-6749
Data Control Technician Vacant (406) 444-2478


Welcome to Montana DEQ’s website for the Water Quality Planning Bureau’s Quality Assurance (QA) Program. The Bureau employs QA principles to assure the quality of environmental information used to support decisions. The QA program applies to the Bureau and its assisting contractors who are providing data to the Bureau. The practical framework used by the Bureau for managing the quality of environmental data collection, generation, and use is referred to as a "quality system." The Bureau's quality system is based on EPA requirements and is documented in the Bureau's own EPA approved Quality Management Plan (WQPBQMP-01).

The focus of the quality system is environmental data. Bureau employees collect environmental information directly or analyze data collected from other organizations. These data are indicators of past and present conditions, uses, causes and sources of impairment, and are used to select the controls necessary to restore impaired beneficial uses. Decisions made using these data must be scientifically defensible, able to withstand public scrutiny and, where necessary, legally defensible.

"Quality data" are those data that enable the user to make a timely decision with an acceptable risk of decision error.

Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs)

Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) are developed to promote consistency in work processes. These SOPs are continually being updated and new methods developed by bureau QA staff. These are available online for DEQ's historical methods (so one can review how historical data was collected) and for recently developed and updated methods. If a recent update or revision is not shown below, refer to the historical SOPs for method guidance.

Assessment Methods and Current SOPs

Document Production & Publication Guidance

Many documents published for WQPB are available to the public via the Web, journals, public review process, etc. The Formatting Guide provides the current formatting requirements for Bureau staff and outside contractors who produce documents for WQPB. This guidance will help to ensure a consistent style and approach to all aspects of document development.

The Editorial Guide describes the general guidelines for word usage and grammar for Bureau documents. This guide looks at spelling, abbreviations and acronyms, punctuation, numbers, units of measure, signs and symbols, as well as general grammar rules and writing tips targeting common traits found in WQPB documents. Consistency in these style aspects will help readers concentrate on the content without being distracted by variations in word usage.

WQPBQASOP-002 Rev 03 – Formatting Guide
WQPBQASOP-003 Rev 01 – Editorial Guide

Planning Documents for Data Collection Activities

Planning documents detail the systematic planning required to assure that Bureau projects will result in data of sufficient quality and quantity for the decisions at hand. The planning document should serve as the blueprint for data collection activities to ensure that the technical and quality goals of the project are met.

EPA requires that all projects involving environmental data use Quality Assurance Project Plans (QAPP) or equivalent documents. A QAPP is a technical document that describes the objectives of a project, and the quality assurance management processes and activities necessary to develop data that will support those objectives. The EPA guidance links for developing a QAPP are provided under More Information.

Sampling and Analysis Plans (SAP) document all aspects of sampling and analysis activities to be performed for a particular water quality study or data collection effort to help assure that project objectives will be met and to ensure the quality of the environmental data so it can be used by groups or agencies to make decisions.