Yale COVID-19 Wastewater Tracker

The Yale COVID-19 wastewater surveillance project measures and reports the daily concentration of SARS-CoV-2 RNA at wastewater treatment facilities across the State of Connecticut, covering more than one million residents in the Stamford, Danbury, Bridgeport, New Haven, Hartford, New London, and Norwich regions. This project is led by Prof. Jordan Peccia, PhD student Alessandro Zulli, and undergraduates Marcy Sanchez and Cade Brown from Yale University’s Environmental Engineering Program in partnership with the CT Department of Public Health, the Yale School of Public Health, the Connecticut Agricultural Experimental Station, and the above seven municipalities. This work is funded through a grant from the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Principal investigator Prof. Jordan Peccia explains why and how we use wastewater for SARS-CoV-2 surveillance

Why Wastewater?

Monitoring the concentration of SARS-CoV-2 in wastewater can track COVID-19 outbreaks within a community. People with an active infection excrete the virus in their stool, which is conveyed to a wastewater treatment plant where it is settled, mixed and concentrated into primary sludge. The virus concentration in a primary sludge sample can be used to estimate the COVID-19 status of the community served by the treatment plant. For example, one daily primary sludge sample from the New Haven, CT wastewater treatment plant represents a population of 200,000 people. Throughout the U.S., approximately 275 million Americans are served by 16,000 wastewater treatment facilities.

Our team has previously demonstrated that we can track COVID-19 outbreaks in a community by measuring the concentration of SARS-CoV-2 RNA in primary sewage sludge and wastewater SARS-CoV-2 RNA concentrations are closely correlated with COVID-19 case rates. We’ve observed that the SARS-CoV-2 concentrations in primary sludge can be a leading indicator of an outbreak, ahead of traditional measures such as COVID-19 individual testing and hospital admissions. As a leading indicator, information on the amount of SARS-CoV-2 in wastewater can be utilized by local and state officials, community groups, and individuals to make informed decisions.