In 2014, APEM’s laboratory completed a marathon nine month project to analyse over 4,000 river biology samples for the Environment Agency.

The job was the largest biological analysis contract the Environment Agency had ever awarded. It involved samples from over 11,000 river sites across England to establish a new baseline as part of compliance with the Water Framework Directive.

Water sample in a petri dish

Background to the project

In 2013, the Environment Agency undertook its largest ever river water quality monitoring programme: a ‘catch-up’ programme requiring the collection and analysis of biological samples from river sites across England to establish a new baseline of ecological status.

Analysing over 3,000 macroinvertebrate samples

The Environment Agency commissioned APEM to undertake the biological analysis of the samples. Over a nine month period, APEM processed over 3,000 river macroinvertebrate samples and nearly 1,000 river diatom samples; comprising over 50 per cent of the whole programme.

Cath Sanders, the Environment Agency project manager, said:

“APEM played a vital role in supporting the delivery of the biological analysis component of this programme. Without this we would not have met the very tight deadlines set by Defra and the European Union.

“The contracted analysis work was all delivered on time and to the high quality standards demanded by the agency. Delivery of the ESI programme was hailed as an unprecedented success by the agency’s directors.

“As the agency’s project manager for the programme, I am very thankful of the first class service provided by APEM that enabled this success, and would not hesitate to use them again.”

Quality assurance

APEM also provides external quality assurance and auditing in macroinvertebrate sample analysis for the Environment Agency and Scottish Environment Protection Agency.

In addition, we provide “ring tests” for all 19 of the Environment Agency’s analysis and reporting laboratories in England. Ring tests involve sending test specimens of macroinvertebrates for Environment Agency biologists to identify.

The Results

  • Over 3,000 samples analysed to family level for macroinvertebrates
  • Nearly 1,000 diatom samples analysed
  • Contract delivered on time and to specification
  • Results contributed important data for water quality classification under the Water Framework Directive
  • APEM also provides external auditing for the Environment Agency and Scottish Environment Protection Agency.