May 2013, Vol. 5, No.25

Water volumes

Basic Laboratory Procedures for the Operator–Analyst

Lawrence K. Wang and Mu-Hao S. Wang

Water Environment Federation, 601 Wythe Street, Alexandria, VA 22314-1994, USA, 2012, 432 pp., $85, softcover, ISBN:

In its fifth edition, this simplified laboratory manual for operator–analysts from the Water Environment Federation (WEF; Alexandria, Va.) has been revised and renamed. Based on the best-selling Standard Methods for the Examination of Water and Wastewater, this book explains in easy-to-understand language various practical topics, including wastewater constituents, sampling, laboratory safety, laboratory analysis, testing equipment, basic chemistry, basic laboratory skills, data interpretation skills, quality assurance/quality control, physical and chemical examination, activated sludge system microscopic examination, microbiological examination, spectrophotometry, data recording, and process monitoring.  


The book is designed for operators and analysts who have limited background in chemistry, biology, bacteriology, and data analysis. It provides the basics for process monitoring and control and permit reporting for water resource recovery facility (WRRF) operations. Each basic laboratory procedure is performed commonly in wastewater laboratories, and each is broken down into easy-to-follow, step-by-step directions. 

Under the direction of Sidney Innerebner, the book was written by 14 professionals in the field and edited and produced by WEF with balanced chapter lengths and a uniform writing style. 

Reclamation of wastewater and biosolids for reuse at WRRFs is a new global trend. By changing the manual’s title from Basic Laboratory Procedures for Wastewater Examination to the current one, Basic Laboratory Procedures for the Operator–Analyst, WEF has set the stage for possible future expansion to cover simplified laboratory procedures for examination of not only wastewater but also biosolids, reclaimed water, and energy. 

This book was prepared mainly for operators and analysts working at activated sludge facilities. However, there exist many other types of biological WRRFs, as well as many 100% physicochemical municipal and industrial WRRFs.  

It is recommended that the next edition include laboratory procedures for other biological and physicochemical systems. In this rapidly changing world, a useful book like this one should be revised and updated every 5 years. 

This excellent and practical book could be further improved by adding more simplified laboratory procedures (sampling and/or analysis), such as chemical oxygen demand, total Kjeldahl nitrogen, total organic carbon, carbon dioxide in digester gas, hydrogen sulfide in wastewater/atmosphere, and some selected heavy metals (ion-selective electrode method). 

Lawrence K. Wang and Mu-Hao S. Wang are professors and consultants at the Lenox Institute of Technology (Newtonville, N.Y.).  


 For more details or to purchase Basic Laboratory Procedures for the Operator-Analyst visit Shop WEF.