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.

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