&EPA
   United States
   Environmental Protection
   Agency
Sampling and Analysis Primer
For Water Quality Surveillance and Response Systems
Office of Water (MC 140)
EPA817-B-15-002F
May 2015

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                                 Sampling and Analysis Primer


Introduction
A Water Quality Surveillance and Response System (SRS) provides a systematic framework for
enhancing distribution system monitoring activities to detect emerging water quality issues and respond
before they become problems. An SRS consists of six components grouped into two operational phases,
surveillance and response. The surveillance components are designed to provide timely detection of
water quality incidents in drinking water distribution systems and include: Online Water Quality
Monitoring, Enhanced Security Monitoring, Customer Complaint Surveillance and Public Health
Surveillance.  The response components include Consequence Management and Sampling & Analysis,
which support timely response actions that minimize the consequences of a contamination incident. The
Water Quality Surveillance and Response System Primer provides a brief overview of the entire system
(USEPA, 2015).

This document provides an overview of Sampling and Analysis (S&A), a
response component of an SRS. It presents basic information about the goals
and objectives of S&A in the context of an SRS.  This primer covers the
following four topics:
      Topic 1: What is S&A?
      Topic 2: What are the major design elements of S&A?
      Topic 3: What are common design goals and performance objectives
       for S&A?
      Topic 4: What are cost-effective approaches for S&A?

Topic 1:  What is Sampling and Analysis?
S&A involves the collection and analysis of water samples to confirm or rule-out contamination.  It
involves water quality parameter testing for indicators of contamination, rapid field testing for specific
contaminants and contaminant classes, and laboratory screening and confirmatory analyses. Additional
S&A activities include site safety screening and working with emergency response partners and
laboratories.

Water system contamination can occur as a result of natural, accidental or intentional threats. S&A is one
of the earliest response actions initiated by the utility when water contamination is suspected. In an SRS,
S&A is initiated in response to surveillance component alerts after the investigation has led to the
conclusion that contamination is possible.  S&A continues to play an important support function
throughout the credibility determination process and during remediation and recovery activities of
consequence management.

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                                  Sampling and Analysis Primer
Topic 2:  What are the major design elements of S&A?
A design element is a useful means to group planning or implementation activities the utility must engage
in to build an S&A response component.  Major S&A design elements are depicted in Figure 1 and
described in more detail below.

  Field Capabilities    Laboratory Capabilities
   Collect and analyze
   samples in the field
Perform laboratory screening
 and confirmatory analyses
   Routine S&A
  Establish baseline
    contaminant
occurrence and method
    performance
Response Procedures
 Identify, develop, test and
refine response procedures
   for all response S&A
       activities
Figure 1.  Major S&A Design Elements
Field Capabilities
The Field Capabilities design element includes planning for equipment, supplies, quality assurance and
staffing needs for all activities that would be performed in the field in response to possible, credible or
confirmed water contamination incidents.  It also involves planning with emergency response partners for
contaminants or contamination scenarios that may require their support.  The field capabilities design
element includes the following sub-elements:

       Water Quality Parameter Testing: Basic water quality parameter tests can indicate changes in
       water quality due to contamination. Testing can include pH, disinfectant residual, conductivity,
       temperature, and turbidity as well as additional water quality tests for total organic carbon,
       dissolved oxygen, color and other tests that may reveal water quality anomalies when compared
       to baseline data.
       Site Safety Screening: Visual hazard assessment is always performed during investigation of
       possible water contamination incidents and relies on the ability of field personnel to recognize
       hazardous materials or situations.  Additionally, instrumentation to detect site hazards, such as
       radiation, volatile gases and combustible gases, can help ensure the safety of workers and
       characterize a site of suspected contamination.
       Rapid Field Testing:  Rapid water testing for specific contaminants or contaminant classes can
       help to prioritize laboratory analyses.  Examples of rapid field tests are free cyanide,  chemical
       warfare agents, arsenic, volatiles and radiation screening.
       Quality Assurance:  To ensure that high quality data is generated during response S&A, a
       demonstration of capability should be performed and quality assurance/quality control
       implemented for all pre-established field methods. All field response methods should be
       incorporated into the utility's quality assurance program.
       Sample Collection: Planning for sample collection involves advanced preparation of sampling
       supplies for contaminants or contaminant classes that the utility or laboratory partners would
       analyze for in response to possible water contamination incidents.
       Field Staffing: Planning for staffing needs involves identifying and training staff, cross-training
       and developing contingency plans in the event that there are contamination scenarios for which
       the utility would require the support of emergency response partners such as HazMat or similarly
       qualified emergency response partners.

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                                  Sampling and Analysis Primer
      Field Safety:  Planning for the health and safety of employees who may be called on to respond
       to water contamination incidents involves review of existing Health and Safety Plans. This is to
       ensure that they cover non-routine activities or locations of response S&A and address any
       modified or additional safety precautions the utility would implement when responding to
       possible contamination incidents involving an unknown contaminant.

Laboratory Capabilities
The Laboratory Capabilities design element encompasses planning for equipment, analytical methods,
supplies, quality assurance and staffing needs for all activities that would be necessary to perform
laboratory analyses in response to possible, credible or confirmed water contamination incidents.  It also
involves planning with emergency response partners and laboratories for contaminants or contamination
scenarios that may require their support.  Resources of the Water Laboratory Alliance can be used to help
build laboratory capabilities. The laboratory capabilities design element includes the following sub-
elements:

      Contaminant Coverage: By evaluating potential contamination threats the utility can identify
       contaminants or contaminant classes and laboratory methods that could be used in the early
       phases of investigation into possible contamination incidents. By identifying in advance the
       methods necessary for broad contaminant coverage, the utility can build in-house capabilities or
       identify partner laboratories. For more information regarding how to build laboratory capabilities
       for contaminant classes of concern from intentional threats, refer to Water Security Initiative:
       Guidance for Building Laboratory Capabilities to Respond to Drinking Water Contamination
       (USEPA,  2013).
      Quality Assurance: To  ensure that high quality data is generated during response S&A, a
       demonstration of capability should be performed and quality assurance/quality control established
       for all pre-established laboratory methods. All laboratory response methods should be
       incorporated into the utility's quality assurance program.  Partner laboratories should be selected
       based on their demonstrated capabilities and quality assurance program.
      Laboratory Staffing:  Planning for staffing involves identifying and training staff in the use of
       laboratory methods and procedures, cross-training and developing contingency plans in the event
       that there  are contamination scenarios for which the utility would require the support of partner
       laboratories.
      Laboratory Safety:  Planning for the health and safety of employees who may be called on to
       respond to water contamination incidents involves  review of existing Health and Safety Plans to
       ensure they address any modified or additional safety precautions the utility may implement when
       responding to incidents in which the contaminant has not yet been identified.
      Mutual Aid Laboratory Networks:  Mutual aid laboratory networks are formal alliances
       whereby laboratories share resources in an emergency.  Establishing these relationships in
       advance can ensure that the utility has access to the resources they need during response S&A.  A
       Water/Wastewater Agency Response Network (WARN) is an intrastate mutual aid and assistance
       agreement commonly established between public and private water and wastewater utilities to
       provide emergency assistance through sharing of equipment, personnel and other resources.
       WARNs, or other similar mutual aid agreements that include the  utility's emergency response
       analytical needs, can reduce the typical response gap between local and statewide agreements as
       they do not require emergency declaration prior to  activation.

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                                  Sampling and Analysis Primer
Routine S&A
The Routine S&A design element involves establishing baseline contaminant occurrence and method
performance data for all pre-established methods that could be used during response to possible water
contamination.  The purpose of routine sampling and analysis is to ensure that baseline contaminant
occurrence and method performance are established in advance of response S&A and that methods are
used at a frequency to maintain baseline data, analyst proficiency and instrumentation readiness. The
Routine S&A design element includes the following sub-elements:

      Establishing Baseline Data: Baseline data can be established by mining routine historical data,
       by using data collected from previous incidents, through one-time special utility projects, drills
       and exercises, or by performing new baseline monitoring.
      Maintenance Monitoring:  After baseline data and method performance have been established
       for all pre-established methods the utility would use during response S&A, the utility can
       determine a schedule for routine S&A to maintain baseline data, analyst proficiency and
       instrumentation readiness.

Response Procedures
S&A requires response  procedures for all field and laboratory methods and activities as well as
procedures for internal and external notifications and communications. Response procedures are often
different from routine procedures with respect to workflow, responsibilities, safety precautions, personal
protective equipment, modes of communication and data reporting such that existing procedures may
need to be modified. Figure 2 illustrates the sequential activities typically involved in response S&A
when the utility has  activated incident command. Each block of activities in the figure involves multiple
steps, staff and procedures.  These activities are typically implemented upon activation of the utility's
consequence management plan.
X

Utility
Incident
Commander

Activate field sampling
and laboratory teams

^ * ^
                                 in
                                 a
                                       Perform site investigation
                                        and safety screening
                                       Collect samples, perform
                                            water tests
                                       Pack samples, chain-of-
                                         custody, transport to
                                            laboratory
V^. 1 ^x
/^~ ~~"\
Utility or
Partner
Laboratory
*
Perform analyses,
conduct QA and data
review, compare data to
baseline, report results J

                           Figure 2.  Response Sampling and Analysis

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                                 Sampling and Analysis Primer
The identification, development and practice of S&A procedures for each activity are critical for timely
and effective response. Because response procedures may be infrequently used it is important to test and
refine them periodically. The Response Procedures design element includes the following sub-elements:

       Identification and Development of Response Procedures: The utility will have pre-established
       capabilities for contaminants, methods and laboratories under the previous design elements. In
       this sub-element the utility identifies all S&A activities that could be performed by the utility in
       response to possible, credible or confirmed water contamination incidents. Routine procedures
       may need to be modified or new procedures developed to document the utility's planned response
       activities, internal and external contacts, notifications and communications. Response procedures
       are developed to consider chain of command and roles and responsibilities and should be aligned
       with the utility's Incident Command System and local  Emergency Operations Center.
       Testing and Refinement of Procedures: In this sub-element response procedures are regularly
       practiced by S&A component staff and tested and refined through drills and exercises with other
       utility SRS surveillance component staff and with the utility's S&A emergency response partners
       and laboratories.

Topic 3:  What  are common  design goals  and performance  objectives
for S&A?
The design goals and performance objectives established for S&A by the utility provide the basis for the
design of an effective component.

S&A Design Goals
Design goals are the specific benefits that utilities expect to achieve by implementing S&A. The
overarching goal of a well-designed S&A component is to be able to confirm or rule-out a wide variety of
contaminants representative of natural, accidental and intentional water contamination threats. All
subsequent design goals listed in Table 1 are a result of building an S&A component capable of
achieving this overarching goal.

Table 1. Examples of Common S&A Design Goals
Design Goal
Ability to respond to a wide range
of contamination incidents
Improved characterization of the
distribution system
Improved field and laboratory and
emergency response partnerships
Improved cooperation across utility
divisions during emergency
response
Description
Planning for a wide range of contaminants and contaminant classes requires
identifying methods, identifying field and laboratory response partners and
developing procedures for all S&A activities the utility would be involved in
during response to a water contamination incident.
Routine use of pre-established field and laboratory methods can provide
additional information about water quality and contaminant occurrence in the
distribution system. This can include a better understanding of the occurrence
of contaminants that were not previously monitored in the distribution system
and of possible spatial and temporal water quality trends in the distribution
system.
Planning for response S&A requires that the utility form new, or improve
existing, relationships with emergency response partners, establish
communication channels and develop response procedures.
Responding to possible, credible or confirmed water contamination incidents
requires that utility staff have an understanding of the roles and responsibilities
of multiple utility divisions that would be involved during response to the
incident, such as water quality and treatment personnel, field sampling teams
and laboratory personnel.

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                                  Sampling and Analysis Primer
Performance Objectives
Performance objectives are measurable indicators of how well the SRS or its components meet the design
goals established by the utility. Throughout design, implementation and operation of the SRS or its
components, the utility can use performance objectives to evaluate the added value of each capability,
procedure or partnership.  While specific performance objectives should be developed by each utility in
the context of its unique design goals, general performance objectives for an SRS were identified in
Water Quality Surveillance and Response System Primer (USEPA,  2015) and are further described in the
context of S&A as follows:

      Incident coverage: Detect and respond to a broad spectrum of potential water contamination
       incidents whether natural, accidental or intentional. An S&A component ensures that the utility
       can effectively respond by establishing capabilities in advance for site investigation, distribution
       system sampling and field and laboratory analyses.
      Spatial coverage: Achieve spatial coverage of the entire distribution system. S&A should be
       able to provide field and laboratory support to any part of the distribution system during
       investigation of possible, credible or confirmed contamination incidents.
      Timeliness of response:  Provide timely response to possible, credible or confirmed water
       contamination incidents as detected by one or more of the SRS surveillance components. S&A
       response procedures and training ensures that field and laboratory analyses are timely and
       effective in all phases of consequence management.  Periodic drills and exercises also improve
       timeliness of response by providing practice to utility personnel and response partners.
      Operational reliability:  Minimize downtime for equipment and instrumentation. Utility field
       and laboratory instrumentation should be reliable, durable and regularly maintained. Utility and
       partner methods and staff should be available  at all times and capable of producing quality data.
      Sustainability: All pre-planned S&A capabilities the utility would utilize during response to
       possible water contamination should be sustainable.  Any additional costs  for field equipment,
       laboratory instrumentation, supplies, consumables and staffing should be justified by the benefits
       derived from the investment. For example, new investments may save time and money in the
       long run or have benefits unrelated to water contamination response.

Topic  4:  What are cost-effective approaches for  S&A?
Utilities can take the following simple steps to develop the foundation for S&A:
      Determine if the utility's current field and laboratory capabilities are sufficient for responding to
       intentional, accidental and natural contamination threats and establish emergency response and
       laboratory partnerships to fill gaps.
      Establish capabilities to collect samples for laboratory-based analyses for a wide range of
       contaminant classes and be able to perform water quality parameter testing in the field. This may
       involve preparing testing and sampling supplies in advance for rapid deployment in an
       emergency.
      Develop emergency response procedures for all S&A activities the utility would perform in
       response to possible,  credible and confirmed water contamination.  Establish points of contact
       and notification procedures for pre-established emergency response and laboratory support
       partners.

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                                  Sampling and Analysis Primer


Next Steps
Visit the Water Quality Surveillance and Response Website at http://water.epa.gov/infrastructure
/watersecurity/lawsregs/initiative.cfm for more information about SRS practices. The Website contains
guidance and tools that will help a utility to enhance surveillance and response capabilities, as well as
case studies that share utility experiences with SRS implementation and operation.

References
USEPA.  (2013). Water Security Initiative: Guidance for Building Laboratory Capabilities to Respond to
    Drinking  Water Contamination, 817-R-13-001.

USEPA.  (2015). Water Quality Surveillance and Response System Primer, 817-B-15-002.

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