Tracking Diseases in Wastewater

Vallejo Flood & Wastewater District is honored to announce that we have joined a Stanford-based initiative, WastewaterSCAN, which monitors wastewater for COVID-19 and other infectious diseases.

In August 2022, Stanford University and Emory University announced that their researchers had launched a nationwide project to monitor COVID-19 and other infectious diseases in communities by measuring viral genetic material in wastewater. The effort -- known as “sewer surveillance” or “wastewater epidemiology” -- will provide health officials and the public with free, high-quality data, which is critical to informing public health decision making. 

As of November 2022, WastewaterSCAN is testing samples from 83 wastewater treatment plants across the country, representing more than 23 million people in 20 states.  Vallejo Flood & Wastewater District is proud to be part of this effort. 

Currently, the study tests for a number of COVID variants including COVID-19, influenza trends, norovirus, RSV trends, and MPXV trends, but is flexible to include new targets as needed.  

“Using wastewater to track the course of certain diseases through a community isn’t a new one,” explains Jennifer Harrington, Director of Environmental Services at Vallejo Wastewater. “But the increased funding and public attention triggered by COVID-19 brought the concept alive in with more resources and more partners. Providing Vallejo’s wastewater samples to this effort will help public health officials understand our community’s needs more quickly and accurately.”

The data provided by the District to WastewaterSCAN is city-wide, since samples are drawn at the treatment plant which serves all of Vallejo. Samples are drawn three times a week and shipped in safe containers to the lab for analysis. The results are made available on a public website within 48 hours of the samples’ arrival.