Quality Assurance Project Plans (QAPPs)

water samples

Project QAPPs are designed to ensure consistent collection and application of quality data throughout the life of a project. QAPPs also are designed to allow a project to be reproduced in the future if necessary.

For the Collection and Use of Environmental Data

Projects that involve the collection, analysis, or manipulation of environmental data, or the use of “secondary data” (see below), require an approved QAPP before the start of work. A QAPP is a formal document describing in comprehensive detail the necessary quality assurance, quality control, and other technical activities that must be implemented to ensure that the results of the work performed will satisfy the project performance criteria. QAPP preparation is intended to facilitate the project planning and development process and to assure that the data used or provided (both grantee-generated and secondary data) are of known and adequate quality.

QAPP development often extends the project schedule and adds to project costs; please be sure to account for this in your budget and project timeline. Please note it usually takes several months to complete the QAPP writing and approval process. If you have any questions regarding the necessity of a QAPP for your project, please contact LCBP prior to submitting your application.

Application of secondary data

The use of secondary data to inform environmental decisions also requires a QAPP. The term “secondary data” refers to previously collected data describing environmental conditions (which may have been collected by other entities, not just the current applicant or grantee). Secondary data can include (but are not limited to): historical data, information from computer databases, computer models, research projects, and surveys. Secondary data are most often applied in modeling projects and require a QAPP because modeling results frequently serve as a surrogate for direct environmental data measurements or are used for their interpretation.

What is the process for developing and implementing a QAPP?

  1. Determine the environmental decision to be made or study question to be answered by the project.
  2. Determine data collection needs, based on what is already known about the site, river, watershed, etc.
  3. Assemble a project team with the necessary expertise.
  4. Plan what will be done to obtain data of known quality to support the decisions to be made or the study questions to be answered.
  5. Contact the LCBP to determine anticipated QAPP needs, costs, and timelines.
  6. Submit application to LCBP.
  7. After the grant has been awarded, draft project workplan.
  8. Following workplan approval and contract execution, develop a draft QAPP.
  9. Submit the draft QAPP to LCBP for peer review, input, and approval, revising it as needed.  Once finalized, obtain all necessary approval signatures.
  10. Distribute the approved QAPP to all individuals involved with the project.
  11. Begin work while implementing the plan, but remember to:
  • Describe and justify any changes that might be requested in the QAPP.
  • Get re-approval from LCBP before initiating the change.
  • Distribute the updated version to your staff following LCBP approval.

12.  For multi-year projects, review the project and the QAPP with LCBP annually and revise as necessary.

Download the QAPP Guide


Your LCBP project officer can provide further guidance, including a QAPP template and approved QAPPs for similar projects. Please do not hesitate to contact us.

Get the latest from Lake Champlain Basin Program