CEE Joins with the state of Colorado for a COVID-19 Wastewater Surveillance Project

Susan K De Long

Susan De Long – Associate Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering and Carol Wilusz, Professor, Microbiology, Immunology and Pathology are partnering with the state of Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment via a $520,000 wastewater surveillance project to track the spread of COVID-19 on the Colorado State University campus.

Those infected with coronavirus often do not exhibit symptoms for 10 to 14 days, and some remain asymptomatic. Regardless of their symptoms, or lack of symptoms, within two days, they start shedding the virus in their feces. Detecting the amount of virus in a community’s waste stream can warn of an impending outbreak four days to two weeks in advance.

Sampling wastewater is a cost-effective way to test entire communities. By studying the wastewater of communities including Fort Collins, Denver, Boulder, Estes Park and Colorado Springs, the scientists and engineers can track trends in infection rates over time.   So far, 16 wastewater districts have signed on to the project, constituting up to 65 percent of the state’s population. The districts will take samples twice a week and send them to CSU. All of the testing will be done at CSU’s Molecular Quantification Core facility, with the ambitious goal of delivering data to the state in three days or less.  Read More