Monday, September 9, 2024
2:30 PM - 3:00 PM
Location Name
Wastewater Based Epidemiology Across the Region: What Lessons Can We Learn

Wastewater based epidemiology (WBE) became a valuable disease tracking tool during the COVID-19 pandemic. Utilities collaborated with public health officials, research institutions, and public health agencies to sample and analyze wastewater for severe acute respiratory syndrome virus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). Benefits of the approach include the ability to monitor symptomatic and asymptomatic cases, detect increases in viral load before outbreaks occur, and better understanding of the incidence of disease in sub-sewersheds of interest. Sustained funding by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) National Wastewater Surveillance System (NWSS) over the years since the epidemic suggests that wastewater monitoring will continue to be used by public health entities to track current and future pathogens in community wastewater. Successful past and on-going tracking programs have focused on building partnerships between wastewater utilities and public health entities to facilitate wastewater testing programs. The projects have supported wastewater testing at facility, city and state-wide scales, each of which has distinct advantages and disadvantages. This paper will present WBE case studies that illustrate best practices for developing wastewater testing programs, with lessons learned that can be applied to IPPs. For example, recent work with the Louisiana Department of Health (LDH), Massachusetts Department of Health (MassDPH), and United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and partnering wastewater utilities exemplified the importance of developing goals, identifying key stakeholders, and collaboration on the design of successful wastewater testing programs. A long-term city testing program in Detroit, Michigan showed the importance of integrating GIS analysis and flow modeling to identify and analyze sampling points in specific sewershed areas of a large metropolitan area. Sampling wastewater at the facility level for the United States Department of Veterans Affairs, LDH, and MassDPH revealed the importance of 24-hour composite sampling to provide meaningful and actionable data. This presentation will describe an approach to developing wastewater monitoring programs built upon lessons learned from WBE case studies implemented in the U.S. and abroad. The stepwise framework includes collaborative goal setting, sampling plan development, sampling execution, and data management and analysis via epiCASTâ„¢. This knowledge will help provide utilities throughout Kentucky and Tennessee with insight into the WBE program development process, and how to apply these tools and insights to setup cost-effective and efficient industrial pretreatment wastewater monitoring programs.