Wastewater Surveillance


Current research is primarily focused on SARS-CoV-2 surveillance in wastewater for informing community understanding of virus spread and to further develop existing models that could be used to predict future viral outbreaks.

Projects to evaluate SARS-CoV-2 through treatment should consider that there doesn’t appear to be guidance on the threshold of virus that would result in an unacceptable risk of causing COVID-19:


Stanford/University of Michigan 

Rapid response NSF grant for SARS-CoV-2 surveillance in raw wastewater. Since early March, samples gathered through wastewater pathogen monitoring project at Stanford Codiga Resource Recovery Center, led by Professor Criddle. Samples are being received from Santa Clara County, EBMUD, and Palo Alto. 

Biobot Analytics (Massachusetts)

Researchers at MIT Alm Lab and Biobot Analytics working on SARS-CoV-2 virus RNA surveillance using qPCR. OCSD is participating over 350 treatment plants across the US.

University of Arizona Water and Energy Sustainable Technology (WEST) Center

WEST is initiating a monitoring program for SARS-CoV-2 sewage surveillance using qPCR analysis for interested POTWs. 

KWR Water Research Institute (Netherlands)

First research entity to report the presence of SARS-CoV-2 in wastewater using qPCR (not peer reviewed yet).

Cranfield Water Science Institute (UK)

Developing rapid test kits using paper-based devices that could be used on-site at treatment plants to trace sources and presence of potential COVID-19 carriers in local areas. Results are visible to the naked eye: a green circle indicating positive and a blue circle negative.

Univ. of South Carolina

Working with 10 agencies in SC, TX, and CA assessing virus fate through the WW treatment system, presence in bioaeosols, impacts to antibiotic resistance, and risk assessment for wastewater workers. Currently, they do not require additional agency participation.

California Association of Sanitation Agencies (CASA) Research:

Many California wastewater agencies have begun testing influent wastewater for the COVID-19 virus as a means of understanding community outbreak and positioning along the curve. Taking advantage of Wastewater Based Epidemiology (WBE), testing for incidences of the COVID-19 in sewage, experts can determine whether the virus has been shed in the agency’s community, and if so, whether it is increasing or decreasing.