COVID-19 Resources for Water Quality Monitoring Programs and Watershed Stewards

Extensive list of COVID-19 resources covering worker/volunteer protection, cleaning and disinfecting, parks & open space, liability protection

From the State Water Board’s Clean Water Team:

To combat the COVID-19 pandemic and to comply with state and local governmental stay-at-home orders, many employees and volunteers have been required to work remotely. Thank you for protecting your staff and volunteers while also helping to flatten the curve. As California starts to reopen, nonprofits and grass-root organizations are contemplating the reopening of their physical offices, services and water quality monitoring. However, as they do so, nonprofit managers are very concerned about the health and safety of their employees and volunteers as they return to the workplace. They are also concerned about how to comply with required re-opening obligations. While some citizen/community monitoring programs may decide on resuming their field activities, others may decide to use only staff, and some will further delay their monitoring programs until an unspecified later time. All these responses are valid for the program making that determination.

To assist monitoring programs in staying informed and learn how to adjust their programs, especially conducting field activities during this time of COVID-19, the Clean Water Team has compiled this list of resources. Few clear guidelines exist for water quality monitors, but we can learn from other fields like wastewater management and keep everyone safe & healthy. A town hall meeting being held June 3rd, Define Best Practices for Volunteer Field Work During Covid-19 sponsored by the USA Volunteer Water Monitoring Network (info. below) will also provide us with an opportunity to learn from each other.

If you have further monitoring related questions, please feel free to contact the Clean Water Team

 Official website for California Coronavirus (COVID-19):

Find resources for partners and community-based organizations to share with your community:


Californians have been staying home and saving lives since the start of our statewide stay-at-home order issued on March 19, 2020. These efforts have allowed the state to move forward on our roadmap for modifying the statewide order and the state is issuing guidance for businesses to follow, if they’re permitted to open per County Health rules.


COVID-19 Control and Prevention: General Guidance for All Workers and Employers

Measures for protecting workers from exposure to, and infection with, SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), depend on the type of work being performed and exposure risk, including potential for interaction with people with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 and contamination of the work environment. Employers should adapt infection control strategies based on a thorough hazard assessment, using appropriate combinations of engineering and administrative controls, safe work practices, and personal protective equipment (PPE) to prevent worker exposures. Some OSHA standards that apply to preventing occupational exposure to SARS-CoV-2 also require employers to train workers on elements of infection prevention, including PPE.

OSHA has developed this interim guidance to help prevent worker exposure to SARS-CoV-2. The general guidance below applies to all U.S. workers and employers. Depending on where their operations fall in OSHA’s exposure risk pyramid (Spanish), workers and employers should also consult additional, specific guidance for those at increased risk of exposure in the course of their job duties broken down by exposure risk level.

The Water Professional’s Guide to COVID-19:

Water Environment Federation Current Priority: Coronavirus

This page will be updated periodically with limited general information, specific water-sector technical information, WEF events information, and links to trusted sites for the most up-to-date official information.

 Expert panel formed to protect wastewater workers during COVID-19

Should wastewater workers take extra precautions to protect themselves from the virus that causes COVID-19?

Recently, the virus that causes COVID-19 has been found in untreated wastewater. While data are limited, there is no information to date that anyone has become sick with COVID-19 because of exposure to wastewater.

Standard practices associated with wastewater treatment plant operations should be sufficient to protect wastewater workers from the virus that causes COVID-19. These standard practices can include engineering and administrative controls, hygiene precautions, specific safe work practices, and personal protective equipment (PPE) normally required when handling untreated wastewater. No additional COVID-19–specific protections are recommended for workers involved in wastewater management, including those at wastewater treatment facilities.

COVID-19 Guidance for Wastewater Workers:

Guidance for workers handling human waste or sewage:

Basic Hygiene

    • Wash hands with soap and water immediately after handling human waste or sewage.
    • Avoid touching face, mouth, eyes, nose, or open sores and cuts while handling human waste or sewage.
    • After handling human waste or sewage, wash your hands with soap and water before eating or drinking.
    • After handling human waste or sewage, wash your hands with soap and water before and after using the toilet.
    • Before eating, removed soiled work clothes and eat in designated areas away from human waste and sewage-handling activities.
    • Do not smoke or chew tobacco or gum while handling human waste or sewage.
    • Keep open sores, cuts, and wounds covered with clean, dry bandages.
    • Gently flush eyes with safe water if human waste or sewage contacts eyes.
    • Use waterproof gloves to prevent cuts and contact with human waste or sewage.
    • Wear rubber boots at the worksite and during transport of human waste or sewage.
    • Remove rubber boots and work clothes before leaving worksite.
    • Clean contaminated work clothing daily with 0.05% chlorine solution (1 part household bleach to 100 parts water).


Workers handling human waste or sewage should be provided proper PPE, training on how to use it, and hand washing facilities. Workers should wash hands with soap and water immediately after removing PPE. The following PPE is recommended for workers handling human waste or sewage:

    • Goggles: to protect eyes from splashes of human waste or sewage.
    • Protective face mask or splash-proof face shield: to protect nose and mouth from splashes of human waste or sewage.
    • Liquid-repellent coveralls: to keep human waste or sewage off clothing.
    • Waterproof gloves: to prevent exposure to human waste or sewage.
    • Rubber boots: to prevent exposure to human waste or sewage.

Recommendation Regarding the Use of Cloth Face Coverings, Especially in Areas of Significant Community-Based Transmission:

People Who Are at Higher Risk for Severe Illness

COVID-19 is a new disease and there is limited information regarding risk factors for severe disease. Based on currently available information and clinical expertise, older adults and people of any age who have serious underlying medical conditions might be at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19. Based on what we know now, those at high-risk for severe illness from COVID-19 are:

Define Best Practices for Volunteer Field Work During Covid-19         

We are hosting a town hall style session on Volunteer Field Work During Covid-19 on June 3rd. At the meeting we will discuss considerations and options for safely getting back out into the field, concerns about losing a season of data, keeping volunteers engaged, and more. Be a part of the conversation.  Register Here:

Citizen-based Aquatic Field Sampling in the Time of COVID-19

In April Jill Carr, with MassBays National Estuary Partnership and Kris Stepenuck, Lake Champlain Sea Grant and UVM Extension, created  best practices guide and list of resources for planning and implementing volunteer water monitoring and aquatic citizen-based monitoring programs in 2020 to accompany a webinar they hosted on Citizen-based Aquatic Field Sampling in the Time of COVID-19. You can find links to the recording, best practice guide, resource list and more on the Volunteer Monitoring website,

    1. Webinar recording
    2. Webinar slides
    3. Best Practices – Summary Suggestions
    4. Chat Summary
    5. Google spreadsheet with both ideas and links to numerous resources for planning and implementing volunteer water monitoring and aquatic citizen-based monitoring programs in 2020.

 Safe Field Practices during COVID-19

Few clear guidelines exist, but we can try to maintain social distance within field crews and keep everyone safe & healthy

    • Limit crew size, and log everyone in attendance (useful if contact tracing is needed)
    • Designate a “Social distance enforcer” or “COVID19 Supervisor”
    • Check for fever/other symptoms each day
      • People with sick/quarantined household members should also stay home
    • Use separate vehicles
    • Use masks, gloves
      • Reusable gloves are an option for durability
      • Gloves may complicate some measurements. Do your best.
      • Properly remove and dispose of used contaminated PPE
    • Disinfect hands regularly (if you can’t wash)
    • Dedicated gear (including water bottles, food coolers, clipboards, etc.) to individuals (no communal gear)
    • Scope out “choke points” during your monitoring activities so that you can properly plan for an avoid them.
    • Coordinate schedule activities ahead of time with property owners or managers.

Most data collection shouldn’t be hard to adjust to social distancing

    • Many tasks can be done solo (e.g., bug collection) or by widely separated crews (e.g., slope and bearing)
    • Walkie-talkies can help when out of cell phone reception

The usual safety precautions are extra important!

    • Hospitals may have limited capacity to help you, and present higher risk of infection
    • Urgent care facilities may be a safer alternative to hospitals
    • Have a safety plan, first aid kit, etc.
    • Have a robust communication plan, in case emergency response is delayed

 Tips for outdoor worker safety (Non-COVID-19)

Outdoor work is a year-round phenomenon, with construction and agriculture among industries that see many employees working outside during the colder months. Along with the changing of the seasons, there are other risk factors you should consider if part or the majority of your workforce operates outdoors, especially if working long shifts. Millions of people work outside every year. Here are ten basic safeguards for outdoor worker safety:

 Health and Safety Responsibilities for Program Managers (Video)


 EPA provides critical information to the American public about safe disinfectant use 

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is continuing its efforts to provide critical information on surface disinfectant products that can be used to protect the health of all Americans throughout the COVID-19 public health emergency. In support of these efforts, EPA now has nearly 400 products that have qualified to be effective against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. This week the agency also published an overview of its actions and resources related to disinfection against the novel coronavirus.

When using an EPA-registered surface disinfectant, always follow the product’s directions and remember:

    • Never apply the product to yourself or others. Do not ingest disinfectant products. This includes never applying any product on List N (the agency’s list of disinfectants to use against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19) directly to food.
    • Never mix products unless specified in the use directions. Certain combinations of chemicals will create highly toxic acids or gases.
    • Wash the surface with soap and water before applying disinfectant products if the label mentions pre-cleaning.
    • Follow the contact time listed for your product on List N. This is the amount of time the surface must remain visibly wet to ensure efficacy against the virus. It can sometimes be several minutes.
    • Wash your hands after using a disinfectant. This will minimize your exposure to the chemicals in the disinfectant and the pathogen you are trying to kill.

Understanding and Selecting Antimicrobial Pesticides: What are Antimicrobial Pesticides?

Did you know many antimicrobial products are considered pesticides? Because they are designed to kill pests, specifically germs or microorganisms, they are considered pesticides. Antimicrobials come in a wide variety of formulations including toilet bowl sanitizers, swimming pool chemicals and bleach. Antimicrobial pesticides are important tools in public health because we use them in hospitals, schools, bathrooms and food preparation areas to prevent the spread of germs that cause diseases.

What are antimicrobials?

Antimicrobial products kill or slow the spread of microorganisms. Microorganisms include bacteria, viruses, protozoans, and fungi such as mold and mildew.  You may find antimicrobial products in your home, workplace, or school.

Fact Sheet – Using disinfectants to control the COVID-19 virus

This guidance is for the public and professionals to control the COVID-19 virus on surfaces:

List N: Disinfectants for Use Against SARS-CoV-2

Common household products that can kill the coronavirus

How to Disinfect Your Field Water Quality Equipment

The last couple of months have been very interesting for us all as we begin to cope with our new norm – working from home or having very limited contact with others whom we work with. We are all used to being so social and active in our environmental careers and this pandemic has certainly changed things for us. When we do all get back to “normal” work, there will likely be new operating procedures put in place to keep each other safe. Our facilities at YSI have transformed immensely in response to COVID-19 and we are positive that most facilities out there will evolve similarly by incorporating the use of face masks, additional hand washing/sanitizing stations, and continuing social distancing practices.

How to Sanitize a Microscope

Tips For Sanitizing Your Canon Gear (Video)

5 Tips To Disinfecting An Office

The continued spread of the flu and new coronavirus (COVID-19) further demonstrates the need for workspaces to be clean and healthy. Luckily, the act of cleaning and then disinfecting a surface dramatically reduces the chances of infection spreading.–25245

How You Can Kill Coronavirus in Your Car Without Damaging Interior Surfaces

Washing hands and cleaning and disinfecting high-touch surfaces are two of the best ways to defend against spreading the coronavirus, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 

As COVID-19 spreads, you’ve probably already learned the proper technique for washing your hands and which household cleaners can destroy a coronavirus

But what about the inside of your car?


 COVID-19 Guidance for Park Administrators

Parks, trails, and open spaces can provide opportunities for physical activity while also providing opportunities for respite, health, and wellness. Individuals are encouraged to use parks, trails, and open spaces safely as they are able while following current guidance to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

The following offers guidance for the use and administration of local, state, and national parks:

 Guidance for Parks as an Essential Service During a Pandemic

Watch videos from a webinar series hosted by the Center for Nature and Health and Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics at UCSF.


Mitigating Liability Risk from Workplace Re-Openings

There are legal standards and constructs in place to protect employees and hold employers accountable. Likewise, there are steps that nonprofit employers can take to help guard the health and safety of their workforce as it returns to the office and mitigate their organizational liability risk in connection with this return.

Coronavirus: What does my nonprofit’s insurance cover?

A QnQ conversation hosted by Cal Nonprofits.

Things to potentially discuss with your legal team and management:

Covid-19 Release and Waiver of Liability/ Assumption of the Risk and Waiver of Liability Relating to Coronavirus/COVID-19

A release of liability form is a contract between your organization and a customer, participant or volunteer. It educates them about the risks that person is undertaking when participating in the activity. When signing the form, the customer acknowledges and understands the risks and agrees to accept them. That person also waives his right to sue your business for injuries he sustains from the activity

COVID-19 Health and Safety Declaration Form

 A screening tool for use prior to allowing a person entry to a facility/site, or mobilizing a visit an office/site.

Field Readiness Checklist/COVID-19 Considerations

This form serves as the COVID-19 risk assessment for travel. 

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