If a terrorist were to contaminate a municipal reservoir, local public health and environmental laboratories would be pressed into service to analyze and identify the contaminants, determine the level of toxicity and collaborate on measures to return the water to potable quality.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) launched the Water Laboratory Alliance (WLA) to provide a network for inter-laboratory communication and aid. 

Laboratories in the WLA will assume emergency responsibilities based on their routine functions. For example, a laboratory that conducts routine monitoring of drinking water quality might monitor the level and type of contamination, referring samples that required the highest level of analysis to laboratories with more advanced analytic capabilities.

APHL is working closely with EPA to help develop the WLA by helping to bring together national experts, federal agencies and state laboratories. APHL is also working to strengthen this alliance by offering training and educational opportunities to enhance the capability and capacity of environmental laboratories to respond to emergencies.

As one of its first activities, the WLA initiated the Regional Drinking Water Laboratory Preparedness Project to bring together representatives from the 10 EPA regions to develop drinking water response plans. The WLA is linked to EPA’s Environmental Response Laboratory Network, which analyzes air, water and soil samples for contamination.

For more information contact, Sarah Wright, MS, Senior Specialist, Environmental Laboratories, 240.485.2786, sarah.wright@aphl.org.