State Water Board Launches ELAP COVID-19 Website

 

Updates 4/16/20

  • New! Guidance on how to respond to a positive coronavirus case in the laboratory
  • Updated! Schedules for EPA’s DMR-QA Study
  • Updated! List of laboratories with emergency capacity
  • Updated! Information about supply and equipment vendors

State Water Board launches new website…

waterboards.ca.gov/elap-covid19 

The information on this webpage is based on the latest statewide and national directives in response to the coronavirus pandemic. The Environmental Laboratory Accreditation Program (ELAP) will be regularly updating this information, so please continue to visit this webpage for the latest information or contact laboratories and businesses directly for their current status of operations.

Frequently Asked Questions

Laboratory Operations

Q: Are there any monitoring requirements that have been suspended?

A: Timely compliance by the regulated community with all orders and other regulatory requirements (including regulations, permits, contractual obligations, primacy delegations, and funding conditions) is generally considered to be within the essential activities, essential governmental functions, or comparable exceptions to shelter-in-place directives provided by local public health officials. Laboratories should contact their clients or the appropriate regulatory agency to receive specific guidance and direction on monitoring requirements.

If there is a specific order or regulatory 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 order or regulatory requirement must notify the applicable regulatory agency immediately.

Q: What if my laboratory cannot make sample hold times due to the COVID-19 emergency?

A: If a laboratory misses the hold time (for whatever reason, including but not limited to COVID-19), the laboratory must notify their client and/or the appropriate regulator of the missed hold time immediately. Additionally, the results must be flagged so that the data user can evaluate against the data quality objectives and make an informed decision regarding the usability of the data.

Q: My courier service closed and I have no one to pull and deliver my client’s required samples for analysis in my lab. What do I do?

A: If a courier service has been suspended, try contacting a local laboratory from the list above (“Laboratories with Emergency Capacity”). Many laboratories also provide courier services and may be able to help sample and deliver samples to your laboratory during the emergency. If regulatory samples cannot be collected, contact your client and the appropriate regulator immediately to discuss options.

Q: Does ELAP have any recommendations if I need to reduce my staff due to the COVID-19 emergency?

A: The Laboratory Director and/or Quality Assurance Manager should identify potential problems in operations or impacts to laboratory quality if staffing is reduced. ELAP understands that laboratories have been reducing staff to prevent potential spread or exposure to the coronavirus. However, if the quality of data will be impacted and/or services must be discontinued because of staff reductions, then the laboratory must contact their clients or regulators to discuss options. Additionally, laboratories should be proactive and formulate actions plans in the event that key staff can no longer come to the laboratory to perform testing or oversee laboratory operations. ELAP recommends cross training staff and identifying and preparing staff to assume key laboratory roles in the event of prolonged emergency conditions.

If a laboratory determines that samples need to be sent to a subcontract laboratory, then contact the laboratory identified as a subcontract laboratory in your Quality Manual or contact a laboratory from the list above (“Laboratories with Emergency Capacity”).


If Your Lab Must Close or End Services

If you must close your laboratory or suspend essential services due to adverse effects from the COVID-19 emergency, please contact ELAP at: elapca@waterboards.ca.gov immediately to notify us of the effective date of the closure or suspension of services.

You must also notify your clients or appropriate regulatory agency that you will no longer provide testing services, and ELAP can assist you or your clients in finding a laboratory with capacity to meet testing needs.


Application Fees

Q: What should I do if I am unable to submit my application to meet the 90-day requirement?

A: As soon as you suspect you will not be able to meet the deadline for submitting your renewal application 90 days prior to expiration of your current certificate, email ELAP at elapca@waterboards.ca.gov. Please let ELAP know which application requirements you are unable to meet and why.

Q: What if I can’t complete my annual quality manual review because of current limitations?

A: Let us know when you submit your application to elapca@waterboards.ca.gov that you were unable to complete the review, and the reason why. ELAP staff will work with you to determine an appropriate time frame to complete the review.

Q: Will ELAP process my application if it is incomplete?

A: ELAP understands laboratories are experiencing resource challenges as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and will provide support and offer alternatives, to the extent available, to get your application accepted. Early communication with ELAP is key.

Q: What if I can’t do my proficiency tests because my laboratory is short-staffed due to COVID-19 response conditions?

A: As soon as you suspect you may not be able to meet regulatory requirements to perform your regularly scheduled proficiency testing, contact ELAP at elapca@waterboards.ca.gov so that ELAP can assist you in creating a plan to meet the requirements.

Q: I haven’t received my annual/renewal fee notice, how do I pay?

A: The Fee and Revenue Branch has temporarily suspended sending physical notices in the mail due to COVID-19. You can request an electronic version of the notice by clicking here.

Q: My lab is being adversely affected by the COVID-19, can my payment be delayed?

A: All fees are still due and payable. However, if your lab has been adversely affected then the Water Board will work with you to find possible solutions. Please e-mail the Fee and Revenue Branch and provide information about why you cannot pay your fees at this time.

Continue reading the ELAP COVID-19 FAQ on their website >


Additional resources

 

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Alec Mackie

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