Capital Region Water has been selected to participate in the National Wastewater Surveillance System (NWSS), a program through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Testing wastewater for SARS-CoV-2 virus (the virus causing COVID-19) can serve as early detection method for disease as well as an indicator for the significance of COVID-19 in a community. Capital Region Water will participate in this exciting collaboration free of charge. Data collected will ultimately be entered into a national database to summarize and interpret information for public health action. Participation in a national database will ensure data comparability across regions.

“This is a significant opportunity for Capital Region Water and the communities we serve,” said Jess Rosentel, Director of Operations at Capital Region Water. “Because the SARS-CoV-2 virus can be shed by individuals with or without symptoms of infection, wastewater can serve as a public health indicator. We’re grateful to have been selected and look forward to contributing samples.”

Capital Region Water is not new to wastewater testing. Since May, the water services provider has participated in a similar wastewater epidemiology program with Biobot Analytics, which includes researchers at MIT, Harvard, and Brigham and Women’s Hospital. The weekly testing was made possible thanks in part to the generous cooperation with the City of Harrisburg but will be coming to an end as this new testing begins.

AquaVitas, the organization selected to perform testing on behalf of the NWSS, plans to begin testing water from Capital Region Water’s Advanced Wastewater Treatment Facility in the next few weeks. Phase 1 will last six weeks and sample wastewater from treatment plants that serve 10% of the U.S. population. In an optional Phase 2, additional treatment plants will be enrolled to cover at least 30% of the U.S. population and continue testing for an additional nine weeks.

For more information about wastewater testing and Capital Region Water’s role, please tune into WITF Smart Talk, Wed., Dec. 16 where Charlotte Katzenmoyer, CEO, and Jess Rosentel, Director of Operations, will discuss about the opportunity.

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