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Water safety in the wake of COVID-19

Earlier this year, as the extent of the coronavirus outbreak became clear, the EPA relaxed a number of environmental regulations in order to curtail the effects of job losses, personnel restrictions, and other problems related to the pandemic. 


The Temporary COVID-19 Enforcement Policy, which was withdrawn from effect after August 31, set new guidelines allowing companies to monitor themselves during the outbreak. Signed by Susan P. Bodine, the EPA’s Assistant Administrator for Enforcement and Compliance Assurance, the order also made clear that “the EPA does not expect to seek penalties for violations of routine compliance monitoring, integrity testing, sampling, laboratory analysis, training, and reporting or certification obligations in situations where the EPA agrees that COVID-19 was the cause of the noncompliance.”


 It’s important to note that the temporary relaxations introduced by the policy applied only to air and water polluters, and not to operators of public water systems, who were expected to “continue normal operations and maintenance as well as required sampling to ensure the safety of our drinking water supplies.” Accordingly, the EPA’s ruling prioritised monitoring for certain drinking water contaminants over others:


Highest priority

Secondary priorities

Tertiary priority

Monitoring required under National Primary Drinking Water Regulations to protect against microbial pathogens

Nitrate/nitrite monitoring

Lead and Copper Rule monitoring



Contaminants for which the system has been non-compliant

Source: EPA 


The reasons for the prioritisation of drinking water safety over other environmental concerns are clear - failure to uphold anything less than the utmost safety standards when it comes to drinking water could quickly and severely compromise consumer safety, potentially compounding the impact of the coronavirus on an already compromised public health system.


 However, drinking water operators and laboratories faced just as many challenges in the wake of COVID-19 as other regulatory bodies, including potential staff shortages and disruptions to infrastructure. For this reason, the EPA worked closely with federal partners, states, and other organisations to ensure resources and personnel were available to assist water treatment facilities facing staffing and contractor challenges during the difficult COVID-19 era.


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When you’re working on a tight deadline with limited staff, the one thing you don’t want to have to question is your toolkit. That’s why LGC’s ISO 17034-accredited range of EPA method reference materials are designed with the highest quality in mind, to further improve our customers’ analytical efficiency when working to test compliance with EPA methods. 


We provide method-tailored solutions for a wide range of EPA method series, including:  


500 series

Methods to identify and quantify organic compounds (volatile organics and synthetic organics) in municipal drinking water

600 series

Methods to quantify organic pollutants in industrial and municipal waste discharges

8000 series

Methods for quantifying organic compounds in groundwater using GC, MS, HPLC, FT-IR and ECD


Need a Smart Solution? Alongside our method-tailored mixtures, we’re constantly evolving our portfolio to include custom mixtures better suited to meet the needs of individual labs seeking to only measure some specific components. Whatever your analyte challenge, simply tell us what you need and we will design the perfect product to assist you.


Take a look at our customs brochure to learn more about our capabilities, or get in touch today and submit a request.


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