Happy International Women’s Day!

InternationalWomensDay-portraitToday people around the globe are celebrating the social, economic, cultural, and political achievement of women. We at Babcock Labs are proud that our company strives for equal opportunity and gender equity. Women make up more than half of our workforce, including our management team. This is unique for a STEM company and something to be proud of, as women still remain underrepresented in the science and engineering workforce at large in the United States.

In addition to being an equal opportunity employer, we are employee owned, which means that our employees have stock in our company and the opportunity to help make decisions about our future. We also support our community in numerous ways, including participating in programs like SISTERS and GEMS which help girls pursue careers in STEM. What’s more, the work we do on a daily basis helps protect public health and the environment, which in turn protects our families and future generations.

We have a very talented team of women and men who work hard each and every day to make a difference. Today we thank our entire Babcock Team for helping us ensure that our company continues to promote diversity, equality, and opportunity for all!

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Giving a Dam: California’s Water Infrastructure Problem

Oroville Dam main spillway

Oroville Dam main spillway (Source: Mercury News)

Recent news about the Oroville Dam crisis has highlighted some of California’s more serious infrastructure problems. At 49 years old, the Oroville Dam is at the end of its designated lifespan, along with nearly 4,000 other dams across the country. But it’s not old age alone that’s causing California water problems, it’s also old ideas. For example, our current infrastructure was built to route stormwater away from us and to the ocean as fast as possible. Stormwater was seen as potentially hazardous waste, so much so, in fact, that it was illegal for Californians to capture rainwater for landscaping and groundwater recharge purposes up until 2013. The State’s 5-year drought coupled with the incredible winter storm events of 2017, however, are forcing California to rethink its narrative on stormwater and consider innovative, sustainable water sources.

Under California Prop. 1, the Water Quality, Supply and Infrastructure Improvement Act of 2014, the State Water Resources Control Board received $200 million for the Storm Water Grant Program. The Board’s Strategy to Optimize Resource Management of Storm Water unit (STORMS) recently published its 10-year vision and implementation strategy for stormwater capture, which includes 23 projects. Nine of these projects are already underway and incorporate the development of watershed management guidelines and tools, the removal of barriers to stormwater capture, and the generation of stormwater data systems. The hope is that these programs can be implemented quickly so that the State can gain a stronger foothold in its battle against the drought.

Improving California’s infrastructure includes making water-conscious choices. While there may be little we can do about our metropolitan concrete jungles, new development should be low-impact and opt for ground space and pervious materials that allow for slow runoff and groundwater recharge rather than impenetrable asphalt and concrete that route stormwater directly to the drains. Additionally, Californians must warm up to the idea of innovative, sustainable water sources, such as water reuse and recycling. The most challenging and contentious step, however, is for Californians to agree to make necessary investments in the State’s water infrastructure.

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A Sinking Feeling: Over-Pumping CA Groundwater

San Joaquin Valley Subsidence

San Joaquin Valley Subsidence (Source: JPL/NASA Report & Google Maps)

The immense importance of proper groundwater recharge was recently confirmed by NASA, who released data earlier this month showing that parts of California are quite literally sinking due to the over-pumping of groundwater. Among other effects, over-pumping groundwater aquifers can cause the soil to collapse and compact, causing the land to subside and, in the case of California’s San Joaquin Valley, jeopardizing water infrastructure that serves millions of people. “The sinking threatens to curtail as much as one-fifth of water deliveries through the vital California Aqueduct to San Joaquin Valley farms and millions of Southern California residents,” according to the Associated Press.

Source: Rancho California Water District (website)

Vail Lake (Source: Rancho California Water District website)

Another effect of over-pumping is poorer water quality. Some local water agencies are considering raising rates to buy imported water while it’s available again to allow for local water sources to recharge. One such agency is Rancho California Water District (RCWD), who can no longer draw from its alternative water source, Vail Lake, due to water quality issues. The dramatic lack of rainfall in the region threatened the local groundwater basin and forced RCWD to use Vail Lake in an effort to augment the local supply and keep rates low. Despite the recent storm events, the lake is reported to be at only one-quarter of its capacity and requires much more water in order for sediment to settle to the bottom. Buying imported water from the state water project is considerably more expensive than local water supply, but it allows time for both Vail Lake and the local groundwater basin to recharge.

While rate hikes are never ideal, recent massive storm events have lifted Northern California out of the drought and importing water from up north may indeed be the best option for still-parched Southern California as it works to recharge its local water sources.

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EPA UCMR4 Environmental Laboratory Testing

Babcock Laboratories, Inc. is in the process of becoming fully certified for UCMR4! We have been approved by the U.S. EPA to participate in Proficiency Testing (PT) and currently have PTs in house. After successful participation in the EPA’s PT studies for all UCMR4 methods, Babcock Labs will receive approval upon finalization of the rule.

Babcock Labs has received certification for each round of UCMR since the inception of the program. Our experience with the program and our expert staff make Babcock Labs an excellent resource for UCMR4 questions and testing services. We are here to help!

Contact a member of our Business Development team today:
Cathy Iijima, Director of Client Services (951-653-3351 ext. 235)
Nick Marz, Business Development Associate (951-653-3351 ext. 262)
Taylor Cariaga, Business Development Associate (951-653-3351 ext. 240)
Or, contact your Project Manager

 

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State Board Notice: Lead Testing in Schools

On January 17th, the State Water Resources Control Board’s Division of Drinking Water (DDW) announced its new program which encourages California schools to work with their local water providers to sample for the presence of lead in their drinking water.

Lead in drinking water has received restored national attention since the Flint Water Crisis which came to light in 2016. Lead is toxic to humans and can cause physical and behavioral effects if consumed, which makes it particularly dangerous for children. Lead enters drinking water through the corrosion of service pipes that contain lead, especially when the water has high acidity or low mineral content. The DDW has noted that California is at a lower risk of lead contamination in drinking water compared to other states because of its more modern infrastructure, however, the DDW believes additional testing will help ensure that California is continuing to protect its most vulnerable populations.

Under this new program, if a K-12 school official requests lead testing its public water system is responsible for collecting water samples within three months of the request, having the samples analyzed by an ELAP-accredited laboratory, and reporting the results to the school within two business days of receiving the results, all free of charge. The water system is required to collect up to 5 samples at each school requesting assistance. The State said this program will stay in effect until November 1st, 2019. To view the sampling plan and protocols, visit the DDW’s Lead Sampling of Drinking Water in California Schools website.

Babcock Laboratories is both ELAP and NELAP accredited and has over 20 years of experience determining ultra-trace amounts of lead in drinking water using EPA method 200.8, which is the testing method required by the State Board for this program. In addition to lead, Babcock Laboratories offers a suite of heavy metal testing services for drinking water. If you are interested in our heavy metal testing services, including lead testing, please contact our Director of Client Services, Cathy Iijima.

As the DDW has noted, this new program will address potential safety issues and reassure our communities that our children and teachers are consuming clean and safe drinking water. We look forward to supporting public water systems as they continue to protect public health under this new program.

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Rain on the Parade: Drought Endures in Southern California

California’s unexpected winter storms replenished the Sierra snowpack and filled reservoirs, allowing more than 40% of the State to emerge from one of the worst droughts in its recorded history. While this news should be cause for celebration, recent data from the U.S. Drought Monitor rains on the parade. According to federal officials, vast areas of Southern and Central California remain locked in extreme drought conditions. For this reason, things still look rather precarious for Southern California, as the south relies heavily on neighboring resources for its water. So Cal’s neighbors may be hesitant to share their newly replenished resources—and rightfully so—given predictions that California may experience a drought resurgence.

For those of us in the environmental industry, this news also affects National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Industrial General Permit (IGP) holders. Under the IGP, the permit holder is required to collect and analyze stormwater samples from each discharge location for two Qualified Stormwater Events (QSEs) within the first half of each reporting year (July 1 to December 31), and two (2) QSEs within the second half of each reporting year (January 1st to June 30th). Many Dischargers took advantage of January’s massive storm events to fulfill their sampling requirements for the second half of the year. If you did not complete your sampling requirements this month, we encourage you to sample during the next QSE given the uncertainty of future rain events in Southern California.

As a reminder, the IGP has redefined a QSE to mean a precipitation event that produces discharge from any industrial drainage area proceeded by 48 hours with no discharge. In addition, QSE discharges can start the night before (within 12 hours of facility operational start time). The IGP also requires that all samples be collected within the first 4 hours of discharge. All Dischargers are required to submit and certify all reports electronically via the Storm Water Multiple Application and Report Tracking System (SMARTS). After receiving data from the lab, the Discharger has 30 days to submit all analytical results to SMARTS. Lastly, it is always a good idea to review your stormwater pollution prevention plan (SWPP) to ensure that your organization stays in compliance with your region’s stormwater program.

If you have not completed the testing requirements for the second half of the reporting year, contact your Project Manager to order your stormwater kit and review your specific stormwater testing requirements in preparation for the next QSE. Click here to view information about Babcock Labs’ stormwater testing services, or contact your project manager to schedule sampling/testing services today!

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Year in Review: A Look Back on 2016

By Babcock Labs CEO, Allison Mackenzie

I think it’s safe to say that 2016 has been a rollercoaster year. As we anxiously anticipate what 2017 has in store, I would like to reflect on some of Babcock Labs’ highlights of this past year.

Babcock Laboratories was proud to start off 2016 by announcing that it was once again NELAP accredited. After California lost recognition as a NELAP Accreditation Body, Babcock Labs sought NELAP accreditation through Oregon’s Environmental Laboratory Accreditation Program (ORELAP). This was an excellent way to start off 2016, as it reaffirmed for our clients our commitment to high quality, reliable data and ethical laboratory practices.

At the beginning of the year, the California ELAP’s Environmental Laboratory Technical Advisory Committee (ELTAC) underwent a rather significant reconstitution and in March, I was appointed by Cindy Forbes, the Director of the Division of Drinking Water, to serve as a voting member. I am very grateful for this appointment because throughout the year I have had the honor of representing small to mid-size independent, California-based commercial laboratories in the on-going reorganization of CA ELAP. Part of ELTAC’s mission is to partner with ELAP to create and maintain a high quality accreditation program that meets the needs of the laboratory community, California regulatory agencies, and data users. This year, ELTAC worked to propose a standard that would help ELAP meet those high quality expectations. In May, with the help of some of my esteemed fellow committee members and industry colleagues, I wrote a white paper in support of California adoption of the The NELAC Institute (TNI) Standard, and in August I presented a TNI work plan timeline to the committee. All of our hard work paid off in September when ELAP announced that it had made a preliminary determination to develop regulations incorporating the 2016 TNI Standard, Volume 1. This is a major step toward meaningful reform for CA ELAP.

Of course, I am not the only staff member who represented Babcock Labs within our industry this year. In August, Babcock Labs’ Senior Chemist, David Schiessel, and Corporate Communications Director, Alexandra Chrystal, both gave presentations at the 2016 Environmental Measurement Symposium in Orange County. Additionally, our Laboratory Director of Operations, Paul Monroy, attended the annual International Association for Food Protection (IAFP) conference. Babcock Labs also participated in two important application notes collaborations this year. We collaborated with Phenomenex on application notes for EPA methods 544 and 545—methods of importance for the upcoming UCMR4—and with Horizon Technology on application notes for 4-methylimidzaole (4-MEI).

Despite some winter rain in the past few months, 2016 also demonstrated that the California drought has no intention of letting up. What’s more, disasters like the Flint water crisis fortified the importance of public access to clean drinking water. In May we published an article on what California could learn from the Flint water crisis and in July we wrote an article investigating the drought’s effects on water quality in Southern California. While these water issues and the implications for public health and the environment are disheartening, we were encouraged by the news that California will likely be the first state to embrace recycled wastewater as a potable drinking water supply.

In 2016 Babcock Labs also carried on its legacy of corporate social responsibility. In addition to providing our clients with excellent analytical testing services, Babcock Labs is also committed to serving its community. For example, throughout the year we partnered with the University of California, Riverside (UCR) and United Way of the Inland Valleys (UWIV) on projects and programs that aim to engage and encourage young women to pursue education and careers in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM). We also hosted STEM college students from the University of La Verne who are interested in becoming laboratory technicians and analysts.

And finally, 2016 marked our 2nd year as a 100 percent employee-owned company! We celebrated our status as an ESOP in October with a month full of festivities. Our transition to an ESOP has added value to our clients, our community, and our staff.

In more ways than one, this year has been one for the books. And while I’m sure many of us can’t wait to say goodbye to 2016, I would like to close out this year with some gratitude. Thank you to our clients who trust us to meet their unique testing service needs. We truly value your business. Thank you to our vendors who support us in our mission to provide our clients with the Babcock Experience. We truly value your services. And last, but certainly not least, thank you to our Babcock team. I truly value your talent, professionalism, and teamwork. I wish you all a successful and prosperous new year!

Posted in Accreditations and Certifications, Awards and Recognition, Beverage and Food Analysis, California Drought, California Environmental Testing Laboratories, Community Service & Outreach, Corporate Social Responsibility, Customer Service, Drinking Water Analysis, ELAP, Employee Ownership, Events and Conferences, Industry News, TEAM Events, UCMR Testing | Tagged , | Comments Off on Year in Review: A Look Back on 2016

Client Spotlight: Western is a Top Workplace!

Congratulations to our client, Western Municipal Water District (Western), on being a 2016 Top Workplace! Learn more about this honor from Western’s press release below:

twp2017Western Municipal Water District (Western) was honored as one of The Press-Enterprises “2016 Top Workplaces” thanks to input from 92 percent of the District’s employees, who gave the District high marks on topics such as job satisfaction, compensation and benefits.

“Receiving the respected ‘Top Workplace’ distinction is a true testament to our commitment to fostering an environment for our employees where mutual respect is paramount and employee support and development are fundamental to our core culture,” said Western’s General Manager John Rossi. “We are grateful such a large number of our employees participated in the survey, providing us with honest feedback on what we are doing right and where we can improve; we will definitely take their feedback to heart.”

Companies were chosen as a “Top Workplace” based solely on anonymous employee surveys, which gathered information on employees’ workplace experience and the leadership of their companies. Workplace Dynamics, LLC, a research firm that specializes in organizational health and workplace improvement, conducted the survey.

The list of “Top Workplaces” is broken down by size, including large workplaces with more than 350 employees; midsize workplaces with 125 to 349 workers; and small workplaces with fewer than 124 employees. Western, which has approximately 140 employees, received a “Top Workplace” award in the midsize category.

According to the survey results, Western’s employees most value the fact they feel like they are part of something meaningful and that managers support learning and growth, encourage new ideas and enable employees to work at their full potential.

“It’s our goal to help our valued employees thrive at Western and make our District a great place to work,” noted Rossi.

Again, congratulations, Western! This award is very well deserved. Babcock Labs was honored as a Top Workplace back in 2014 so we understand firsthand the significance of this recognition.  Way to go!

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Babcock Laboratories Welcomes New Vice President, Brad Meadows

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
December 5, 2016

Brad Meadows Joins the Babcock Labs Team as Vice President & Laboratory Technical Director

RIVERSIDE, Calif. – Babcock Laboratories, Inc., the standard of excellence in analytical testing for over 100 years, is pleased to announce and welcome Brad Meadows as its new Vice President and Laboratory Technical Director.

bradMr. Meadows joins the Babcock Labs team with 25 years of experience in the environmental testing industry, including time spent in the role of Vice President and Laboratory Director for a multi-location analytical testing laboratory. He has experience in the oversight of a wide range of business disciplines, including Operations, Quality Assurance, Client Services, Information Systems, Human Resources, and Business Development. Mr. Meadows has a Master’s of Business Administration and a Bachelor’s of Science in Chemistry, both from California State University, Fresno.

“We are thrilled to welcome Brad to the team,” said Babcock Labs CEO Allison Mackenzie. “He is a well-respected member of the analytical testing community and we believe his knowledge, experience, and professionalism will help further the growth and prosperity of this great organization.”

Mr. Meadows will succeed longtime team member and current Vice President and Laboratory Technical Director, Larry Chrystal, who is retiring after 41 years of service to Babcock Labs.

“Babcock Labs is forever grateful for the years of expertise and dedication that Larry has given to our organization, our staff, and our clients,” said Ms. Mackenzie. “Larry’s career exemplifies our corporate mission of producing the highest quality, most reliable environmental services and analytical data. Mr. Chrystal is truly an important contributor to the Babcock Legacy and we have every confidence that Mr. Meadows’ talents will lend to that legacy as well.”

Mr. Meadows assumed his new role at Babcock Labs on December 5th of this year. Mr. Chrystal is set to retire at the beginning of 2017, but will stay on with Babcock Labs on a consulting basis.

For more information, please contact info@babcocklabs.com or call 951-653-3351.

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About Babcock Laboratories, Inc.

Founded in 1906, Babcock Laboratories, Inc. is an independently owned and operated commercial testing laboratory located in Riverside, California. Babcock Laboratories is committed to protecting the environment and public health through premier analytical testing services. The laboratory specializes in the analysis of drinking water, wastewater, stormwater, groundwater, food and beverages, soils, and hazardous materials. The laboratory’s clientele range from small water systems and private land owners to large municipalities and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). As of 2014, Babcock Laboratories is 100 percent employee owned via an Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP). For more information, please visit www.babcocklabs.com.

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ESOP Month: Babcock Labs Celebrates Being Employee Owned

For over 20 years, the Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP) Association and its member companies across the nation have celebrated Employee Ownership Month every October. This is Babcock Lab’s second year as a 100 percent employee-owned company, and therefore our second year taking part in the October ESOP Month celebrations!

The purpose of ESOP Month is to engage and educate employees in their company ownership. As an ESOP, employees have stock in the company which in turn gives our staff greater incentive to provide our clients with exceptional analytical testing services. Essentially, by investing in the quality of the work we provide, each of us here at Babcock Labs is investing in our future and the futures of our fellow coworkers. It’s a win for our clients and it’s a win for our team. Additionally, it’s a win for our community because employee ownership and our ability to stay independent from multi-national network labs keeps revenue local, as our business and employees invest their earnings back into the local economy.

Babcock team members playing ESOP Wheel of Fortune

Babcock team members playing ESOP Wheel of Fortune

To celebrate this win-win-win situation, our employees participated in a month of ESOP fun! Our employee owners kicked off the start of October with a company breakfast where staff had the opportunity to share a meal together and hear about the month’s festivities. So far, the festivities have included puzzles, a logo contest, an ice cream social, and games like ESOP Wheel of Fortune. On Monday, October 31st, we will hold a Closing Ceremony Potluck with Halloween-themed treats and prizes. To say it’s been a fun and educational month is an understatement!

With 110 years of service to the testing industry under our belt, Babcock Labs is proud to celebrate its second year as a 100 percent employee-owned company. Our transition to an ESOP has allowed us to double down on our commitment to our clients and we look forward to meeting all of your analytical testing needs in the century to come.

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