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EPA Issues Memorandum on Enforcement Discretion During COVID-19 Outbreak

On Thursday (3/26), EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance (OECA) issued a memorandum – COVID-19 Implications for EPA’s Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. This memo provides some suggestions (not requirements) for potential prioritization of Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) compliance monitoring, while leaving any final decision-making on potential prioritization to the primacy agencies. This memo maintains the historical relationship between states’ SDWA implementation with EPA oversight, as needed.

Drinking water systems are specifically addressed as follows in the memo – “The EPA expects operators of such systems to continue normal operations and maintenance as well as required sampling to ensure the safety of our drinking water supplies. The EPA expects laboratories performing analysis for water systems to continue to provide timely analysis of samples and results.”

“In anticipation of worker shortage and laboratory capacity problems, the EPA considers the following tiers of compliance monitoring to assure the safety of our drinking water supplies and prioritize prevention of acute risks. Of highest priority is monitoring required under National Primary Drinking Water Regulations to protect against microbial pathogens. Additional priorities include nitrate/nitrite and Lead and Copper Rule monitoring followed by contaminants for which the system has been non-compliant. States may wish to adopt similar priorities.”

“EPA strongly encourages public water systems to consult with the state and EPA regional offices without delay if issues arise that prevent the normal delivery of safe drinking water and encourages states to continue to work closely with the EPA on measures to address the potential impacts of COVID-19. The EPA also encourages certified drinking water laboratories to consult with the state and the EPA if issues arise that prevent laboratories from conducting analyses of drinking water contaminants.”