Water Boards COVID-19 Updates

The State Water Boards continue to work under the direction of California Governor Gavin Newsom during the coronavirus public health crisis to assure the state’s commitment to public health and safety.

These are extraordinary times and the environmental protection work of the State Water Boards and Division of Drinking Water remains essential during this crisis. We are sensitive to the impact the COVID-19 response and economic downturn is having and will have on most segments of society. We will continue to use judgment and flexibility as circumstances present themselves.

Toward that end, we have provided guidance to the regulated community, local and regional jurisdictions, as well as the state population.

Below are links to important guidance to regulated industry and the general public.

Compliance with Water Board Requirements During the COVID-19 Emergency

The State Water Resources Control Board and the nine California Regional Water Quality Control Boards (the Water Boards) are continuing their efforts to protect public health, safety, and the environment consistent with all federal, state, and local public health directives and guidelines related to COVID-19.

Please be aware that timely compliance by the regulated community with all Water Board orders and other requirements (including regulations, permits, contractual obligations, primacy delegations, and funding conditions) is generally considered to be an essential function during the COVID-19 response. As a result, the Water Boards consider compliance with board-established orders and other requirements to be within the essential activities, essential governmental functions, or comparable exceptions to shelter-in-place directives provided by local public health officials.

If there is a specific Water Board order or requirement that cannot be timely met because it would be inconsistent with current governmental directives or guidelines related to COVID-19, the entity responsible for compliance with the Water Board order or requirement must notify the applicable Water Board immediately. The notification shall be via electronic mail to the applicable Water Board using the appropriate email address identified below, and shall include:

  • the specific Water Board order, regulation, permit, or other requirement that cannot be timely met,
  • the inconsistent COVID-19 directive or guideline,
  • an explanation of why the responsible entity cannot timely meet the Water Board order or requirement, and
  • any action that the entity will take in lieu of complying with the specific Water Board order or requirement.

Water Board staff will do their best to respond within 24/48 hours.

Please note that more specific directions for certain types of Water Board orders and other requirements may also be provided.

Guidance

COVID-19 Information for Public Water Systems and Affected Communities

The State Water Resources Control Board – Division of Drinking Water (DDW) recognizes the challenges that Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) will have on the operations of public water systems (PWS), the people working to provide potable water and the communities served by the PWS. DDW is providing information to provide clarity on resources, requirements, and expectations during this crisis and to identify options for consideration in developing solutions to the challenges.

Sewershed Surveillance for COVID-19

Monitoring municipal wastewater and sludge for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes the disease COVID-19, along with clinical data on infections and virus shedding rates can provide valuable information to inform COVID-19 epidemiology and the State’s and local health officials’ response to the current COVID-19 pandemic. State Water Resources Control Board – Division of Water Quality (DWQ) is aware of at least 30 facilities that are conducting monitoring for SARS-CoV-2 in wastewater and there are likely more utilities conducting monitoring that we are not aware of. Although the State Water Resources Control Board is not requiring monitoring for SARS-CoV-2, the State Water Resources Control Board encourages those that are voluntarily monitoring to coordinate with state and local public health officials to generate high-quality data to ensure the data can be reliably used for decision-making in order to improve the State’s ability to respond to the current pandemic and prepare for future outbreaks.

Standard operating procedures (SOPs) to measure SARS-CoV-2 in untreated wastewater

In 2018, the State Water Board issued a grant to the Water Research Foundation to convene a group of technical experts to develop, optimize, and validate standard operating procedures (SOPs) to measure a number of waterborne pathogens in untreated wastewater and to develop a Quality Assurance Project Plan (QAPP) that describes quality assurance and quality control (QAQC) measures for the sampling and analyses of the selected pathogens. In March 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Water Research Foundation added SARS-CoV-2 to the project scope and updated the SOPs and QAPP. The QAPP and SOPs for measuring SARS-CoV-2 and the other selected pathogens in untreated wastewater are available on The Water Research Foundation’s page.

The State Water Board strongly encourages laboratories to use this SOP or other SOPs with equivalent QAQC and performance metrics when monitoring for SARS-CoV-2 in wastewater to ensure data quality and reliability.

Other Links and Resources

State and Regional Board Contacts and Remote Meeting Pages