The Water Research Foundation (WRF) announced that a team from the University of California at Irvine will lead Understanding the Factors that Affect the Detection and Variability of SARS-CoV-2 in Wastewater (project 5093). The UC Irvine research team is led by Dr. Chenyang “Sunny” Jiang, Professor and Chair of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. This project was identified as a high-priority research need during WRF’s recent International Water Research Summit on Environmental Surveillance of COVID-19 Indicators. In addition to WRF funds, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation contributed funding to support this project.
The primary goal of this study is to optimize sampling design to best capture SARS-CoV-2 signals in wastewater (sewage and septage) so that signal detection and quantification can serve as both an early warning for COVID-19 outbreaks and reflect epidemic severity in the community. The research team will base its study on the sewage collection and treatment systems within the County of Los Angeles. This location has the advantage of enabling the detection, variability, and dynamic range of SARS-CoV-2 genes to be assessed at the variety of scales required for the project. The project has commenced and results are expected by September 2021.