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Health Advisory Panel

The Utah Division of Water Quality and the Utah Department of Health have organized a Water Quality and Health Advisory Panel whose objectives are to coordinate and communicate on water quality issues associated with specific public health concerns.

The primary current focus of the Panel will be coordination around waterborne pathogens (WBPs),Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs), and the safe consumption of aquatic life harvested from our water bodies. However, we expect that other issues may arise in the future which would be appropriate for the Panel to address.

Combining these groups into a single advisory panel will be more efficient by eliminating overlap among members of the workgroup. Also, it will help ensure that solutions to these interrelated problems are more consistent. Meetings will typically be held once in the spring and once in the fall, though the group may need to meet for frequently at the outset.

Goals and Objectives

All water quality problems are multifaceted and this is particularly true for those with the potential to affect human health. This panel will have two primary goals. First, the panel will facilitate interagency coordination and communication. The second goal is to ensure that the monitoring, assessment, and response to water quality problems related to health effects are based on sound science.Hence the panel membership will be comprised of individuals with a breadth of expertise and experience. While the primary focus of the panel is human health, the Panel will consider effects of these contaminants on all beneficial uses including aquatic life and agriculture.

The objectives of the panel include several generic objectives as well as issue specific objectives.

  • Develop or refine, as necessary, water quality indicators, monitoring strategies, and assessment methods related to water quality issues that have human health implications. Work with DWQ’s Water Quality Standards workgroup on numeric standards, as appropriate.
  • Develop consistent statewide policies outlining actions to be taken if/when indicators suggest threats to recreation and drinking water uses as well as threats to wildlife, livestock, and pets.
  • Further develop the fish consumption advisory methodology, specifically how to manage annual variability of mercury concentrations at a waterbody and when to remove an advisory if the data indicate there is no longer a public health risk.
  • Communicate a unified message regarding public health risks associated with specific events based on a comprehensive review of the data and relevant literature.
  • Develop and refine field and laboratory Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs), Sample Analysis Plans (SAPs) and related data management and analytical methods.
    • Review and communicate technical information about waterborne pathogens, contaminants in consumable aquatic life, and Harmful Algal Blooms monitoring results.
    • Develop prioritization criteria for future sampling of water bodies across the state for health-related concerns.
    • Disperse training information to local partners and provide regional training (e.g. IDEXX).
  • Review public information materials, including fact sheets, pamphlets, advisory notices, and website content to inform the public about health advisories and closures of recreational waters.
  • Identify and prioritize research to better understand risks to human health, livestock, and wildlife, or to solve water quality problems that are currently known.


Members of this panel were selected through a nomination process. We envision the WQHAP members to work for 3 years and we will revisit whether the make-up of membership slots is appropriate and provide opportunities for new participants to replace members.

Stakeholder Group or OrganizationIndividual
Co-Chair, Division of Water Quality, DEQBen Holcomb (bholcomb@utah.gov), Assistant Director, DWQ
Co-Chair, Environmental Epidemiology Division, UDOHAlejandra Maldonado (alajandramaldonado@utah.govh.gov), Epidemiologist, DOH
Division of Drinking Water, DEQSarah Page, Rules Section
Utah Public Health Laboratory, UDOHEleanor Ojinnaka,  UPHL
Division of Wildlife Resources, DNRWade Cavender, Assistant Aquatic Section Chief
Division of State Parks, DNRDevan Chavez, Parks Program Manager
Fish Health ExpertiseAnna Forest, Fish Health Specialist, UDAF
Veterinary ProfessionalVacant
Local Health Department (Urban)Michela Harris, Weber-Morgan Health Department
Local Health Department (Rural)Jason Garrett, Utah County Health Department
US Fish and Wildlife ServiceChris Cline, Ecological Services, USFWS
US Geological SurveyScott Hynek, Hydrologist, USGS
US EPATina Laidlaw, Region 8, EPA
National Park ServiceMark Anderson, Aquatic Ecologist, NPS
Utah Poison Control Center (UPCC)Amber Johnson, Director (UPCC)
EpidemiologistDelaney Dean, UDOH, Bureau of Epidemiology
Ecologist/limnologistWayne Wurtsbaugh, Watershed Sciences, USU
Theron Miller, Jordan River/Farmington Bay Water Quality Council
Public Health ExpertiseJim VanDerslice, Associate Professor, University of Utah
Boating/Fishing Recreation InterestsPaul Dreman, Utah Anglers Coalition
Environmental InterestsMelissa Stamp, Provo River Mitigation Commission
Drinking Water Utilities InterestsVacant
Publically Owned Treatment Works (POTWs)Lee Rawlings, South Valley Water Reclamation District
Agricultural InterestsVacant
Mining and Industry InterestsJeff Davis, Cardno

Contact Information

For more information about this group please contact:

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