What’s in YOUR Sludge?

Categories: 

August 18, 2020

Crud. That’s what some folks might call sludge, a byproduct of wastewater treatment. People are often left wondering what to do with it. Do they dispose of it? Do they land apply it? Or do they just test it for COVID-19? Well, the latter is exactly what researchers have begun doing across the world, from the Netherlands to the Gem State.

Working with Biobot Analytics, a start-up created by MIT student Dr. Mariana Matus focusing on wastewater epidemiology, Boise and Moscow are putting their wastewater to the test. Solids in wastewater settle into what is called a sewage sludge. And in that sludge are the viruses humans shed when they use the bathroom. Biobot is taking that sludge and testing it for COVID-19 concentrations to generate an approximation of how many cases might be in the communities those wastewater systems serve.

So why test for COVID-19 this way? For starters, it provides large, anonymous, and unbiased samples. Researchers are able to collect data from symptomatic, as well as, asymptomatic individuals, many whom were never tested for the virus. This data allows researchers, community leaders, and healthcare systems to monitor the amount of virus present in a community and make decisions accordingly. Because this data can be collected before individuals begin showing symptoms, healthcare systems have time to prepare and communities have time to implement protocol to prevent the spread of the virus.

As they always have, wastewater systems and their operators help to ensure the health of the communities they serve. With the developing science of wastewater epidemiology, these systems can further serve the well-being of their communities through the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.

More Articles

Welcoming our Newest Environmental Scientist

Welcoming our Newest Environmental Scientist

Welcome to the Team! Madison Rosen has joined Mountain Waterworks’ corporate office in Boise, Idaho as an Environmental Scientist, where she will facilitate environmental reviews, support groundwater supply planning, and develop water and wastewater system mapping...

Welcoming our Newest Infrastructure Specialist

Welcoming our Newest Infrastructure Specialist

Welcome to the Team! Zach Cox has joined Mountain Waterworks’ corporate office in Boise, Idaho as an Infrastructure Specialist. Mr. Cox will provide support during planning efforts, constructability review during design, and on-the-ground resources during...

PRESS RELEASE

PRESS RELEASE

Post-Disaster Funding for Emergency Repairs Procured for Yellow Pine, Idaho Boise, Idaho, August 2021 - The Yellow Pine Water Users Association’s (YPWUA) public drinking water system (PWS) encountered severe damage and disruption to service area residents and...

How to remedy five management flaws and create resilient teams

How to remedy five management flaws and create resilient teams

Jennifer L. Donahue, Ph.D., P.E., M.ASCE, is the founder of JL Donahue Engineering — a globally recognized seismic analysis and engineering firm. With her 25 years in the U.S. Navy, she is well qualified to offer advice for how engineers can use lessons learned from...

How wet is your wetland?

How wet is your wetland?

In April 2020, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of the Army published the Navigable Waters Protection Rule in the Federal Register that finalized a revised definition of which waters are considered “jurisdictional waters” in the United...

How I aced the P.E. exam

How I aced the P.E. exam

With the next round of P.E. and S.E. exams approaching, it’s nearly crunch time for those seeking professional licensure this spring. But even if you’re not a test-taker this April, it may be something you’ve considered for a while or have looked forward to at some...

Now is (finally) the time to future-proof our infrastructure

Now is (finally) the time to future-proof our infrastructure

Constantine Samaras, Ph.D., A.M.ASCE, is the director of the Center for Engineering and Resilience for Climate Adaptation at Carnegie Mellon University, an adjunct senior researcher at the nonprofit, nonpartisan RAND Corporation, and past chair of ASCE’s Committee on...