State recertifies Wampanoag water testing lab

In recent years, Island towns have relied on the Wampanoag lab to test water quality. On-Island testing has allowed many towns to reopen beaches more quickly. — File photo by Steve Myrick

The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) has re-certified the Wampanoag Environmental Laboratory for microbiology analysis and awarded it a contract to test water quality at the Island’s beaches this summer, the tribe’s Department of Natural Resources announced Wednesday.

This is good news for Island boards of health that have relied on the lab for state-mandated testing of water off beaches around the Island during summer. It also means that time-sensitive water samples will not have to be flown to the Cape for analysis.

The lab had been without a qualified director since September and lost its state certification in October. It was, however, able to continue to provide water quality anaylsis.

“We’re glad to have this step completed,” said Bret Stearns, the tribe’s natural resources department director. “The lab has always been operated at the highest level, and this re-affirms our commitment to the health of the Island and to clean water.”

The tribe continues to seek a full-time laboratory manager to operate the chemistry and microbiology analysis. In the meantime, the Natural Resources Department’s environmental technician will serve as the supervisor for the microbiology analysis at the laboratory, according to the tribe.