The water industry has shot to prominence during the battle against COVID-19, with water utilities across the globe participating in sewage monitoring for traces of the virus (also known as ‘wastewater based epidemiology’ or WBE).

Finding these fragments or remnants of virus genetic material doesn’t mean the infectious virus is present, but could indicate that a once-infected person was in the area.

We take great pride in not only providing an essential service 24/7, but also helping public health authorities track the virus and determine where they should target their medical testing activities. Last week WSAA’s COVID-19 Taskforce heard a very interesting update about the work how water and health authorities are interacting.

A recent story from Arizona in the US highlighted the potential benefits of this work. Researchers at the University of Arizona tested samples from 20 buildings on the campus. A detection of higher levels of virus traces coming from one dormitory, led to testing of over 300 residents living in that facility. Two positive cases were reported, both asymptomatic carriers. They began isolation, thus preventing further spread of the outbreak.

22 Sep 2020

Danielle Francis

Danielle Francis