Battling America’s ‘Dirty Secret’

To Catherine Coleman Flowers, this is “holy ground”: the place where her ancestors were enslaved and her parents fought for civil rights and she came of age. Here, amid the rich, dark earth and emerald farm fields, she is home.

Yet this ground also harbors a threat, one that will worsen as the planet warms.

For decades, the people of this rural county 30 miles south of Montgomery have struggled with waste. Municipal sewage systems do not extend to this farming community, and many residents cannot afford septic systems; their waste flows directly into ditches or streams. Even those with septic tanks find that they often fail in the dense, waterlogged soil. On rainy days, toilets won’t flush and foul effluent burbles up into bathtubs and sinks.

Looking to Reopen, Colleges Become Labs for Coronavirus Tests and Tracking Apps

Thousands of students returning to the Rochester Institute of Technology in New York this month are being asked to wear masks in public, register their health status online each day and electronically log classroom visits for contact tracing if a coronavirus outbreak occurs. But the most novel effort at the school to measure and limit virus spread will require little effort and come quite naturally.

Students need only use the bathroom.

At more than 15 dormitories and on-campus apartment buildings, sewage is being tested twice weekly for genetic evidence of virus shed in feces. This provides a kind of early-warning system of an outbreak, limiting the need to test every student for Covid-19. If the disease is found in sewage, individual tests can be administered to identify the source.

House Republicans Push Using Wastewater to Track COVID-19

Water Utilities Pin Hopes on WRDA Bill During Coronavirus Pandemic

The Senate and House will negotiate soon on robust legislation for water infrastructure projects, which is especially critical for water and wastewater facilities during the coronavirus pandemic.

In a letter sent to Republican and Democratic congressional infrastructure leadership on Monday, the National Association of Clean Water Agencies urged that the Water Resources Development Act of 2020 authorize strong funding for the public water sector.

CDC Scientists Discuss Wastewater-Based Epidemiology

Studying concentrations of pathogens in wastewater — a practice known as wastewater-based epidemiology — is a time-honored approach to gathering crucial public health data that traditional approaches might miss. During the coronavirus pandemic, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are partnering with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to establish a formalized, federal-led approach to WBE over the next 18 months.

Why Wastewater Testing is Critical in the Fight Against COVID-19

Almost certainly you’ve seen headlines about wastewater treatment plants around North America joining the fight against COVID-19 by testing wastewater in an effort to predict viral hotspots. Our industry is well positioned to be a key player in the fight through this kind of routine testing during the pandemic.

Researchers have confirmed that the COVID-19 virus can be detected in the untreated waste of positive patients, and numerous treatment facilities across the U.S. are taking advantage of that and working to help track the spread of the outbreak.

There Were No Reports of Coronavirus in Yosemite. Then They Tested the Park’s Sewage

Like a lot of the rural West, Yosemite National Park stood as a safe haven from the coronavirus. No park employees or residents tested positive. No visitors reported being sick. The fresh air and open space seemed immune.

Research: Non-Flushable Wipes are Flooding Source Water with Microplastics

Though the public at large may continue to dispose of non-flushable wipes through their toilets, wastewater professionals are well aware of their propensity for clogging sewer systems and creating expensive issues. But even these professionals may not be aware of another water system problem that researchers are now tracing back to non-flushable wipes.

Coronavirus: Testing Sewage an ‘Easy Win’

A sewage-based coronavirus test could be an “easy win” that would pick up infection spikes up to 10 days earlier than with existing medical-based tests.

Scientists led by UK’s Centre for Ecology and Hydrology are working on a standardised test to “count” the amount of coronavirus in a wastewater sample.

“The earlier you find [a signal], the earlier an intervention can happen,” says lead researcher Dr Andrew Singer.

“That means lives will be made much more liveable in the current crisis.”

Hundreds of U.S. Cities Testing Sewage for Early Signs of Coronavirus Hotspots

Local officials in Oregon, California, New York, Utah, Florida and many other places are collecting sewage samples to test for coronavirus, which experts say could allow for detection of hotspots for the disease before the diagnosis of clinical cases.