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Environmental Lab

Supporting the King County Water and Land Resources Division by keeping watch over our waterways.

Protecting our waterways

Our mission at the King County Environmental Laboratory (KCEL) is to produce high-quality field and laboratory data. Many of our programs track long-term environmental health and water quality. Some of these projects started more than 40 years ago. These long-term datasets help our scientists to understand how our environment changes over time and to identify potential problems. Other projects we work on are shorter term. These are like snapshots of what is happening in our environment so we can understand and protect our natural resources better.

What we do

Every year we test thousands of water, sediment, and other types of environmental samples from all over King County and surrounding areas. The data we produce are used in environmental studies, to enforce environmental laws, and make resource management decisions.

Our data scientists use it to:

  • Track regional water quality
  • Design and operate wastewater treatment plants
  • Track wastewater treatment plant discharge permit compliance
  • Enforce industrial waste laws
  • Create plans and programs to protect and improve local water bodies
  • Track use of recycled products like biosolids  and treated wastewater
  • Protect public health
  • Take part in studies with other governmental and research organizations

We are recognized by the Washington State Department of Ecology (WDOE) as an excellent laboratory because of our commitment to producing high-quality, accurate data.

The lab is made up of chemists, biologists, microbiologists, engineers, environmental specialists, and administrative and information technology professionals. We are located in Seattle, Washington.

Our field and laboratory scientists collect and analyze samples from many sources including:

  • Marine and freshwater bodies
  • Industrial operations
  • Wastewater treatment plants
  • Groundwater
  • Forests
  • Plant and fish tissues

At the lab, our scientists test these samples to measure and record possible pollutants and other harmful compounds. These can affect the environment and public health.

Our laboratory units

Our laboratory units include:

  • Trace Metals
  • Trace Organics
  • Microbiology
  • Conventionals
  • Field Science
  • Aquatic Toxicology

These units are supported by Client Services Units which include:

  • Laboratory Project Managers
  • Information Systems and Data Analysis staff
  • A Quality Assurance Officer
  • A Building Operating Engineer
  • Administration staff

Our lab is accredited by the Washington State Department of Ecology (WDOE) and is dedicated to producing high quality data in support of essential environmental quality and public health programs in our region.

Contact us

For questions about our laboratory services, please click or tap on the name of the person whose description best matches your question. You will be directed to their contact information page in the King County directory.

Laboratory projects

King County wastewater treatment plants; combined sewer overflows (CSOs); biosolids, industrial waste; capital projects; and marine monitoring projects for the Water and Land Resources Division (WLRD).

Erin McCabe

King County solid waste; city National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System; biosolids projects; WLRD groundwater monitoring projects; and fish studies.

Susannah Rowles

WLRD freshwater and groundwater monitoring; microbial source tracking; swim beach monitoring; Wastewater Treatment Division’s (WTD) Water Reuse and Technology and Assessment; King County Roads; WLRD Stormwater Services; and reimbursable projects.

Meghan Elkey

Laboratory management team

Lab Manager: Diane McElhany

Aquatic Toxicology Supervisor: Fran Sweeney

Client Services Supervisor: Kevin Cummings

Conventionals Supervisor: Brian Prosch

Field Science Unit Supervisor: Jean Power

Microbiology Supervisor: Eric Thompson

Trace Metals Supervisor: Derrick Sanders

Trace Organics Supervisor: Diane McElhany

Quality Assurance Officer: Arina Podnozova, or 206-477-7187