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Wastewater Epidemiology for the Bay Area

Early warning about the spread of Covid-19 can help save lives.

Research has shown that wastewater monitoring for the SARS-CoV-2 virus has the potential to detect signs of disease trends in a community before information from clinical surveillance is available. People with Covid-19 may shed the virus in their feces before they show symptoms (and even if they never show symptoms), and even if they do not access clinical testing, so wastewater monitoring is a promising method for early detection of local outbreaks.

Our mission is to help track the spread of Covid-19 in our region and provide early warning about local outbreaks by analyzing wastewater from around the Bay Area. We operate a high-throughput laboratory for wastewater analysis and have a cutting-edge research program. Our collaborative regional wastewater monitoring effort aims to provide the most useful, reliable, and accurate data about SARS-CoV-2 in wastewater to decision-makers.



See graphs of our wastewater monitoring results, updated in real-time.



We manage and operate a high-throughput laboratory at UC Berkeley to process wastewater samples from across the Bay Area. Our lab detects the genetic material of the SARS-CoV-2 virus (not the live virus itself) from wastewater samples, taken from before the sewage is treated at the wastewater treatment plant.



Researchers at UC Berkeley conduct ongoing research with wastewater samples to improve detection limits for SARS-CoV-2, identify and track viral strains, quantify error associated with sampling at different scales, and track the spread of local outbreaks.


Regional Monitoring

A steering committee with experts from public health, wastewater, and research guides a regional wastewater monitoring effort for SARS-CoV-2 in the San Francisco Bay Area. Sampling location and frequency are determined in collaboration with public health officials and wastewater utilities. Results are shared with public health decision-makers and the relevant wastewater agencies from Bay Area counties, and contribute to state and federal wastewater monitoring efforts.


Partners and Funders

We are currently analyzing wastewater samples from the Bay Area in collaboration with local wastewater agencies and public health departments, around California with support from the California Department of Public Health. We are also working with the California Correctional Health Care Services to analyze wastewater from two prisons. We gratefully acknowledge financial support from a private foundation, CITRIS, and IGI.