U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Water Laboratory Alliance (WLA) is intended to provide the water sector with an integrated nationwide network of laboratories with the analytical capabilities and capacity to support monitoring and surveillance, response, and remediation of intentional and unintentional water contamination events involving chemical, biological, and radiochemical contaminants. The WLA is the water component of the EPA’s Environmental Response Laboratory Network (ERLN). The ERLN is a network of laboratories which provides analytical capability and capacity for the above contaminants in all environmental matrices.
The Water Laboratory Alliance Response Plan (WLA-RP) provides processes and procedures for coordinated laboratory response to water contamination incidents that may require additional analytical support and a broader response than a typical laboratory can provide. The WLA-RP is designed to work within existing Incident Command System (ICS) structures and procedures, and may be adopted by the EPA regions to replace their existing Regional Laboratory Response Plans (RLRPs). These RLRPs were developed for each region in cooperation with drinking water utilities, state public health laboratories, state environmental laboratories, emergency response personnel, and other experts. Functional Exercises were conducted in 2008 to test each of the RLRPs; the lessons learned from the Functional Exercises and the common elements of the RLRPs provided the basis for development of this WLA-RP. The WLA-RP provides a consistent, national approach to coordinated laboratory response to water contamination events and eliminates the need to maintain separate RLRPs. The WLA-RP is intended for use in small incidents requiring support from a single laboratory to multi-regional incidents supported by many laboratories.
During a natural disaster, terrorist event, or accident affecting the water sector, a large number of environmental samples will be generated, likely overwhelming the capacity and/or capability of any individual laboratory to provide sufficient analytical support. This plan does not obligate laboratories to provide support in such an event, but rather provides a consistent approach to how water utility, state, and EPA regional laboratories should work together to meet the need for analytical support. This plan should not be construed to supplant or subordinate existing legal authorities, but rather should be used as needed to coordinate laboratory support for water contamination incidents.
Questions regarding the WLA-RP may be sent to Adrian Hanley (202-564-1564).