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EPA OECA Releases Inspection Expectations During COVID-19 Pandemic

On July 21, 2020, EPA’s Assistant Administrator for the Office of Enforcement Compliance and Assurance (OECA), Susan Bodine released a letter that details OECA’s inspection expectations during the COVID-19 Pandemic. In this letter, OECA recommends that partner agencies at states, territories, and tribes perform inspections, when it is safe to do so, consistent with their priorities and applicable OECA program priorities. When a partner agency’s planned on-site inspections to meet applicable OECA program priorities cannot be performed due to COVID-19, OECA and EPA’s regional Enforcement and Compliance Assurance Divisions (ECADs) encourage the use of off-site compliance monitoring activities. With advancements in technology, off-site compliance monitoring activities have the potential for being effective tools for determining noncompliance and for identifying inspection priorities. During the public health emergency, we will count off-site compliance monitoring activities towards a partner agency’s inspection commitments under OECA’s Compliance Monitoring Strategies (CMSs) and towards grant commitments.

For drinking water sanitary surveys, an important regulatory component of Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) implementation, primacy agencies are working through the details on what portion of the inspection (the audit of the monitoring records, etc.) can be conducted virtually and how to conduct the on-site inspections in a manner that protects the health of the agencies’ and water systems’ staff. The detailed inspections letter can be found below.

OECA Inspection Expectations for EPA Partner Agencies During COVID-19 Public Health Emergency Letter (J