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San Diego Utilities Department Monitors Wastewater For SARS-CoV-2

The Point Loma Wastewater Treatment Plant sits just above the ocean, Nov. 5, 2014.
Nicholas McVicker
The Point Loma Wastewater Treatment Plant sits just above the ocean, Nov. 5, 2014.

San Diego is participating in a statewide program to monitor its untreated wastewater for the virus that causes COVID-19, it was announced Tuesday.

City staff have been monitoring for severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2, or SARS-CoV-2, in untreated wastewater at the Point Loma Wastewater Treatment Plant this month. Following the test run, staff will monitor for SARS-CoV-2 three times a week from January through June 2021.

All data will be reported to the state within 24 hours of receiving results.


"Assisting the state in monitoring wastewater for this virus is vitally important to the public," said Shauna Lorance, director of the city's public utilities department. "We hope that the information we provide will help health officials better understand the virus and stop the spread of COVID- 19."

The California Department of Public Health and the State Water Resources Control Board initiated the wastewater-based epidemiology program in coordination with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and are participating in the National Wastewater Surveillance System, a collaborative effort among states to monitor wastewater.

The surveillance system will then inform the incidence, spread and control or epidemiology of COVID-19 to improve public health decision making.

The Point Loma Wastewater Treatment Plant is one of five large wastewater treatment plants in California already voluntarily participating in a state sponsored research project with the Water Research Foundation titled "Measure Pathogens in Wastewater" to generate bi-monthly SARS-CoV-2 data in untreated wastewater.