Wastewater data is valuable infrastructure that must be funded.

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Wastewater monitoring data is important scientific data for a number of applications and reasons. This needs to be funded at all levels.

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Chloe Humbert

Wastewater data is valuable infrastructure technology. Wastewater monitoring must continue and be expanded for our modern society's scientific public health management. Wastewater monitoring data is important scientific data for a number of applications, including public health monitoring for viruses like SARSCOV2. This needs to be funded and encouraged at all levels of government. Please promote wastewater monitoring.


COVID Data Dispatch newsletter: How wastewater surveillance is funded, and concerns for its future. April 2, 2023.

More permanent funding could go a long way in convincing more state health agencies to invest in wastewater surveillance programs, rather than relying on outside assistance from companies like Biobot or academic partners. More data and guidance on how to actually use wastewater data to inform public health decisions would help, too, since many agencies are still figuring this out. Such investment at the state level would help make the country’s wastewater infrastructure more comprehensive, and more capable of responding to new health threats. Instead, right now, we have an uneven system. Some places are regularly monitoring for COVID-19 and easily able to expand to new testing targets, while others might lose this valuable data source in the next year or two. For any local reporters reading this, I highly recommend digging into your community’s wastewater surveillance system, and figuring out whether it’s set up for the long term.

Scientific American: A Valuable Early-warning System for Disease Outbreaks Could Be Shut Down. Uncertain funding means wastewater surveillance programs could close in the future. By Betsy Ladyzhets on March 30, 2023

During the past three years of the pandemic, testing sewage water for the virus that causes COVID has become a valuable tool: it has spotted surging infections and new variants weeks before they showed up in medical clinics, for instance. The technology has also warned of other health threats such as seasonal viruses and increased opioid use. But now its long-term ability to protect public health is in jeopardy. Funding uncertainty from the federal government and uneven commitments from state health departments have raised the specter that wastewater monitoring programs may shut down in the future.

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