Welcome to the Connecticut COVID-19 Wastewater Surveillance Program. Starting August 3, 2020, this program monitors the daily concentration of SARS-CoV-2 RNA at wastewater treatment facilities across the State of Connecticut. The program covers nearly 1,000,000 residents in the Stamford, Bridgeport, New Haven, Hartford, New London, and Norwich regions. The program is sponsored by the State of Connecticut and is conducted by Jordan Peccia, Alessandro Zulli, and Annabelle Pan from Yale University’s Environmental Engineering Program in partnership with the Douglas Brackney at the Connecticut Agricultural Experimental Station, and the above six municipalities.

Why Wastewater?

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

Monitoring the concentration of SARS-CoV-2 in wastewater can be an important tool for tracking COVID-19 outbreaks within a community. People with an active infection (symptomatic or asymptomatic) can excrete the virus in their stool, which is conveyed to a wastewater treatment plant where it is mixed—and during the first phase of treatment—concentrated in primary sludge. A wastewater sample can be used to estimate the COVID-19 status of a community served by the treatment plant. For example, one daily primary sludge sample from the New Haven, CT Water Pollution Control Facility represents a population of 200,000 people. Throughout the U.S., approximately 275 million Americans are served by 16,000 wastewater treatment facility.

A schematic representation of a typical wastewater treatment plant. The Connecticut COVID-19 Wastewater Surveillance Program uses primary sludge samples for testing.

Our team has previously demonstrated that we can track a COVID-19 outbreak  in a community by measuring the concentration of SARS-CoV-2 RNA in primary sewage sludge. We’ve observed that the SARS-CoV-2 concentrations in primary sludge can be a leading indicator of an outbreak, ahead of other measures, including COVID-19 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 to implement public health measures.

Please refer to the Connecticut COVID-19 Wastewater Surveillance Initiative’s protocols page for more in-depth information on our approach. Contact Jordan Peccia, Professor of Environmental Engineering at Yale University, with comments or questions: Jordan.Peccia@yale.edu