San Diego recognized for monitoring wastewater for coronavirus

Two state agencies have formally recognized the city of San Diego’s Public Utilities Department for helping to monitor wastewater in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Both the state Water Quality Control Board and the California Water Monitoring Council issued resolutions in appreciation of San Diego for participating along with four other utilities in the Center for Disease Control’s National Wastewater Surveillance System program.

San Diego Public Utilities Department Director Shauna Lorance said monitoring wastewater can provide key information in understanding and preventing the spread of COVID-19.

The city has been involved with multiple studies of COVID-19 monitoring in wastewater since the beginning of the pandemic, and findings will be made public when the studies are complete. San Diego’s wastewater treatment process already has proven to be effective in removing other commonly found viruses and bacteria, according to a press release from the city.

The California Water Monitoring Council also recognized San Diego and other organizations for their wastewater monitoring efforts, which include participating in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services pilot studies to investigate the logistics of implementing wastewater-based epidemiology nationally.

The city’s Public Utilities Department and several other California agencies and institutions pioneered an approach that better assesses the spread of COVID-19 through testing wastewater, according to the State Water Quality Control Board. This approach yields information about the prevalence of the diseases in populations several days sooner than individual testing and hospitalization records, the board stated.

The city also has participated in related studies conducted by other organizations, including San Diego State University, the University of Arizona and the Southern California Coastal Water Research Project.

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