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  • California ELAP Expert Review Panel issues interim recommendations following first meeting at SCCWRP

    April 15, 2015:

    A five-member advisory panel convened by SCCWRP to evaluate the state’s Environmental Laboratory Accreditation Program (ELAP) has unveiled a series of interim, short-term recommendations as the first step in a comprehensive, two-year review of the program. 

    The California ELAP Expert Review Panel, which held its first meeting in March at SCCWRP, has recommended that ELAP should automatically accept accreditation from other groups – including its counterparts at the national and international levels – as the program works to clear a backlog of pending accreditation reviews. 

    The five-member panel also has recommended that ELAP work to improve its communication strategy, form strategic new relationships with ELAP clients, and reenergize the state’s Environmental Laboratory Technical Advisory Committee (ELTAC), which serves as a key ELAP adviser, liaison, and resource.

    “You have an opportunity to be a model for other states,” panelist Stephen Arms told meeting attendees. “I hope through this process that other states look at what you’re doing and see opportunities to improve the process.”

    ELAP program Chief Christine Sotelo said at the meeting that her staff appreciated the interim recommendations and would immediately begin work on implementing them.

    “We have the right group here to give us advice, and we appreciate time you took,” Sotelo told the panel.

    The panel issued its interim, short-term recommendations at the conclusion of a three-day meeting that ran March 17-19 at SCCWRP, in which the panel heard from ELAP staff, stakeholders and the environmental laboratory community about the state of the program, as well as opposing perspectives from more than a dozen organizations and individuals about how to improve it. ELAP is the accrediting body for California’s environmental science laboratories.

    The panel has scheduled two additional meetings at SCCWRP this year – August 10-13 and October 14 – to continue its deliberations. 

    The panel’s ultimate charge to develop long-term recommendations for how the accrediting body and its accreditation standards should be revamped, including whether the program should reestablish its affiliation with the National Environmental Laboratory Accreditation Program (NELAP). 

    The panel has scheduled the release of its first report in November 2015 and the final report in December 2016.

    For more information about the California ELAP Expert Review Panel and to be added to an email listserve to receive occasional updates about the panel, contact Dr. Steve Weisberg.


    ELAP Expert Review Panel members, from left, Mitzi Miller, Jordan Adelson, 
    David Speis, Stephen Arms and Lara Patterson Phelps assess the state of 
    California’s accreditation program for environmental laboratories during 
    the first meeting of the panel, held March 17-19 at SCCWRP.


    Judith Morgan, vice president and chief regulatory officer for ESC Lab 
    Sciences, delivers a presentation to the California ELAP Expert Review 
    Panel during its three-day meeting at SCCWRP in March. The audience 
    members included ELAP administrative staff from Sacramento, left, and 
    the five-member panel, right.

  • SCCWRP’s seventh biennial Symposium attracts 112 guests, maintains high evaluation scores

    April 06, 2015:

    SCCWRP’s seventh biennial Symposium conference event that was held in February for its member agencies attracted 112 guests from more than 20 organizations and maintained its consistently high evaluation scores from attendees.

    All 14 SCCWRP member agencies were represented at the all-day, invitation-only event, plus the California Coastal Commission, San Francisco Estuary Institute, USC Sea Grant, Santa Monica Bay Restoration Commission and other local municipal agencies. 

    Afterward, attendees awarded average scores of 4.3 to 4.7 on a scale of 1-5 for each of the criteria they were asked to evaluate, including the Symposium’s relevancy to their job, the event’s communication effectiveness, and the value of attendance. 

    The average scores across all evaluation metrics were 0.1 to 0.3 points higher than in 2013, when SCCWRP last held its Symposium. 

    The seventh biennial Symposium, held February 26 at SCCWRP, began with a plenary session titled “Climate Change Effects on SCCWRP Member Agencies.” Attendees rounded out their day by selecting from among 28 scientific presentations and demonstrations organized around eight thematic research areas: nutrients and eutrophication, contaminants of emerging concern, beach microbial water quality, wetlands, bioassessment, sediment quality, regional monitoring, and technologies and visualizations.

    SCCWRP’s Symposium became a biennial event starting this year to help avoid repetition of scientific content.

    The PowerPoint presentations from the Symposium, as well as video recordings of many of the talks, are available for review by all Symposium attendees and the staff of SCCWRP’s member agencies. To review the presentations, contact a CTAG representative.

    For more information about the Symposium, contact Dr. Steve Weisberg.


    SCCWRP information systems manager Shelly Moore, left, helps Symposium 
    attendees learn how to use a cellphone microscope during a how-to 
    demonstration at the agency's seventh biennial Symposium.


    SCCWRP marine programs coordinator Dario Diehl takes apart SCCWRP's 
    autonomous underwater vehicle to show how it works during a demonstration 
    at the SCCWRP Symposium.


    Catherine Kuhlman, executive director of the California Ocean Protection 
    Council, discusses how climate change will impact SCCWRP's 14 member 
    agencies during the 2015 Symposium plenary session, which kicked off 
    the all-day event.

    Attendees at the seventh biennial SCCWRP Symposium mix and mingle between 
    sessions. The invitation-only event brought together the staff of all 14 SCCWRP 
    member agencies for a day-long event to learn about SCCWRP research.

  • SCCWRP leads Stormwater Monitoring Coalition kickoff event in Santa Monica Mountains

    March 24, 2015:

    Members of the Southern California Stormwater Monitoring Coalition reviewed protocols for assessing the health of the region’s streams during a SCCWRP-hosted training and intercalibration exercise on February 19 that kicked off the second cycle of the coalition’s Regional Watershed Monitoring Program.
     
    The kickoff event, which was held at Medea Creek in the Santa Monica Mountains near Agoura Hills, included opportunities to review bioassessment protocols and wetland assessment protocols.
     
    Participants also learned how to identify evidence of hydromodification and to characterize channel engineering – two types of monitoring that are being added to the program’s second, five-year cycle. 
     
    About 24 people participated, including a number of SCCWRP member agencies.
     
    The Stormwater Monitoring Coalition is a multi-agency initiative to comprehensively assess the health of Southern California’s streams. The inaugural cycle of the coalition’s regional monitoring program kicked off in 2009; from the lessons learned, participants developed and refined a second, five-year cycle that was launched in 2014.
     
    Among the coalition’s newest collaborators is the National Park Service, which runs the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area where the training exercise was held.
     
    For more information about the training event and the 2014 cycle of the SMC’s Regional Watershed Monitoring Program, contact Dr. Raphael Mazor.


    Members of the Southern California Stormwater Monitoring Coalition 
    review stream assessment protocols at Madea Creek in the Santa 
    Monica Mountains, part of a day-long, SCCWRP-hosted training event 
    that kicked off the second cycle of the Regional Watershed Monitoring 
    Program.


    Participants in the Southern California Stormwater Monitoring 
    Coalition's Regional Watershed Monitoring Program review 
    bioassessment and wetland assessment protocols on February 19 in the 
    Santa Monica Mountains. The monitoring program's second cycle was 
    launched in 2014.

  • Peruvian government scientist visits SCCWRP to learn about U.S. approach to protecting coastal ecosystems

    March 23, 2015:

    A Peruvian government scientist interested in learning how U.S. researchers work to protect coastal marine environments visited SCCWRP on March 18, his only stop at an environmental research agency during his U.S. visit.
     
    Biologist Christian E. Paredes of the Instituto del Mar del Peru said he appreciated the opportunity to learn about how SCCWRP collaborates with numerous government, university and private-sector partners to advance marine research. His Lima, Peru-based agency, which is tasked with protecting Peru’s coastal marine ecosystems, does not have any collaborations with local universities, he noted – a shortcoming that his SCCWRP visit has inspired him to change.
     
    “The collaboration here is spectacular,” said Paredes, who runs a five-member ecotoxicology lab, the Laboratorio de Ecotoxicología Acuática. “This is a good way to solve problems.” 
     
    Paredes, who came to the U.S. primarily to visit family in San Francisco, made a special trip to Orange County to meet with SCCWRP scientists, he said. He was put in contact with SCCWRP through Dr. Robert M. Burgess of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Atlantic Ecology Division in Rhode Island.
     
    Paredes’ six-hour SCCWRP visit began with a tour of SCCWRP’s facilities, followed by a series of one-on-one meetings with key SCCWRP scientists. The equipment and labs are very similar to Peru’s facilities, Paredes observed, but the scientific advances that SCCWRP has made through collaboration and partnerships go far beyond Peru’s present capabilities.
     
    “We are a few people solving big problems,” Paredes said. “We want to collaborate more at home, notifying agencies and creating tools to engage these institutions.”
     
    For more information about Paredes’ visit, contact Steve Bay.


    Peruvian government biologist Christian E. Paredes, center, gets a tour of a SCCWRP lab from Dr. Doris Vidal-Dorsch and Steve Bay during a six-hour visit to the agency to learn about how U.S. researchers work to protect coastal marine environments.

  • SCCWRP releases overhauled Annual Report, seeks feedback on new style

    March 12, 2015:

    SCCWRP has released a completely redesigned Annual Report for 2014 that marks one of the most ambitious overhauls ever to the agency’s signature communications document.

    The 2014 Annual Report, which made its debut at SCCWRP’s Symposium on February 26 and is now available online, has been slimmed down to resemble a magazine, with more thematic overview articles designed to appeal to the environmental management community. 

    The first half of the 60-page report contains newsy, feature stories on SCCWRP research, capped by an 11-page feature exploring why sediment quality matters to environmental management. The second half of the report contains a reprinting of abstracts for all 38 SCCWRP-authored technical publications from the past year, with instructions on how to obtain the full-text versions.

    The overhaul was intended to communicate big-picture applications of SCCWRP’s research, using storytelling techniques that would be more appealing to environmental managers than the 600-plus pages of technical articles that comprised the 2013 Annual Report.  

    In the pre-digital age, SCCWRP’s Annual Report provided a rare glimpse into SCCWRP research that had not yet been published anywhere else. This was due to acceptance-to-print lags at scientific journals that could last two or more years. Since the advent of online publishing cycles, SCCWRP research is now published in a more expeditious fashion, rendering the reprinting of full-text technical articles obsolete.  

    Given that this is the first year of the new format, SCCWRP is particularly interested in receiving feedback about whether this format serves its audience effectively. SCCWRP encourages all readers to contact Dr. Steve Weisberg, the Annual Report’s editor, or Scott Martindale, the report’s managing editor, with constructive criticisms and ideas on how to improve the next edition.

    To view the 2014 Annual Report as well as previous Annual Reports, go to www.sccwrp.org/Documents/AnnualReports


  • ELAP Review Panel to hold first meeting March 17-19

    February 27, 2015:

    SCCWRP will host the State of California’s Environmental Laboratory Accreditation Program (ELAP) Expert Review Panel during its first meeting March 17-19. 

    During the first day of the meeting, which the public is welcome to attend, the Panel will be hearing presentations about the program prior to deliberations. On Day 2, the Panel will go into closed session to deliberate, and then publicly report out on its deliberations on Day 3.

    The Panel’s mission is to comprehensively examine the environmental lab accreditation process in California and develop recommendations for improving it. 

    California’s accreditation process is designed to ensure that the State’s drinking water, wastewater, shellfish, food and hazardous waste programs have access to consistent, high-quality data. All California environmental testing laboratories are required to go through this accreditation process prior to providing analytical data used for state regulatory purposes. 

    For more information about the Panel members, the charge to the Panel, and the agenda for the first meeting, go to www.sccwrp.org/elap. For more information about the Panel and the meeting, please contact Dr. Steve Weisberg.