CDC National Wastewater Surveillance System (NWSS)
West Virginia is participating in the CDC NWSS for SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) surveillance in wastewater treatment plants throughout the State Of West Virginia. WVDHHR is collaborating with Marshall University and West Virginia University to collect samples of wastewater and test for COVID-19 as an additional surveillance tool in the on-going COVID-19 pandemic response.
CDC NWSS has a website to view all the results submitted by the participating states this is part of the COVID Data Tracker
EPA Issues Guidance for Public Water System Sampling During COVID-19
EPA has provided a compliance and enforcement guidance document during the COVID-19 pandemic. In it, the EPA outlines its expectations that operators of water systems continue normal operations and maintenance, as well as required sampling to ensure the safety of our drinking water. The document also identifies monitoring and reporting priorities. Those are Total Coliform (TCR) sampling, Lead and Copper sampling, Nitrate, and Nitrite.
EPA guidance language:
"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."
The health and safety of water system operators and water customers should be of highest priority, and so the WV Office of Environmental Health Services can provide instructions for water systems to follow during this pandemic which may minimize risk to the operator and the customer.
TCR sampling: Samples should be collected as required. In the event that sampling cannot be performed safely, operators should collect at a location that is more accessible, including an outside tap, if necessary. After sample collection is complete, operators should note any deviation from their approved plan in a sample plan addendum submitted to their district office. Operators should note on this addendum that sites were selected because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Lead and Copper sampling: These samples must be collected as required, but these can be collected any time between 6/1 and 9/30, so there is still time to identify sites that may not be accessible. In the event a sample site is not available or cannot be accessed safely, a new site must be identified and approved by the district office prior to sampling.
Disinfectant By Product (DBP) sampling: Samples are location specific but if sampling cannot be performed safely, operators should collect at a location that is more accessible, including an outside tap, if necessary. If this is still not an option, operators should collect samples at the closest location to the required site. In either case, operators must note on the lab report that the sample location was collected at the "Closest Tap to Approved Location due to COVID-19 pandemic."
Other sampling, such as Nitrate and Nitrite, is collected at the treatment plant and should not pose the safety challenges of those collected in the distribution system, as listed above.
WV Operator Licenses Temporarily Extended
During the COVID-19 pandemic, events have been canceled where the majority of Certified Water Well Drillers and Pump Installers, Wastewater Plant Operators and Drinking Water Plant Operators acquire their Continuing Education Hours (CEH's) required for license renewal. To provide additional time for the operators to acquire the required CEH's, the Office of Environmental Health Services, Certification and Training Program will be extending all operator licenses until July 2020. The need for any additional extensions will be determined once the ramifications of the COVID-19 virus are known. There is no need for individual operators to request extensions.
The WV Office of Environmental Health Services will also allow out of state operators to work in a WV water or wastewater plant. To be sure that the operators are working in appropriate level plants, interested operators should contact the Certification and Training Program to determine their WV operator classification based on their education and experience.
WV Radiation, Toxics and Indoor Air Licensing Temporarily Extended
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Radiation, Toxics and Indoor Air Division (RTIA) is providing a grace period covering from March 1, 2020 through July 31, 2020, to licensees in the Asbestos, Lead, Clandestine Drug Laboratories, and Radon programs. This is for any license that will expire and need renewal during this time and the necessary training cannot be obtained due to cancellations of classes.
This means any existing license or certification which has or will expire between March 1, 2020 through July 31, 2020, will be automatically extended until July 31, 2020, with the purpose being to allow for the required training for renewal to be obtained. This extension only applies to those currently licensed who would need to renew.
RTIA will reevaluate the grace period as time passes and this policy may be amended if the COVID-19 pandemic continues.
In keeping with the guidance for social distancing, if you have questions or concerns during this time, please contact the main office phone number at (304) 558-2981. Our receptionist will get you in contact with one of us, or will send you to voice mail where one of us will get back with you as soon as possible. Some staff are working from home during this time, so please be patient and know that your questions or concerns will be addressed as soon as we can. Thank you for your understanding.