Call for Research Proposals | Wastewater-based epidemiology (WBE)

Call for Research Proposals | Wastewater-based epidemiology (WBE)

Proposals are sought from our research members in four key areas of WBE which have been identified by our Industry members and form part of a national research agenda. The call for proposals is open until 5 February 2021. You can find details of the call, eligibility, timelines and how to apply below.


Wastewater-based epidemiology (WBE) has long been used to help inform broader infectious disease surveillance and mitigation efforts, such as the Global Polio Eradication Initiative. More recently, global projects have been developed to explore using sewage for continuous monitoring of chemicals and pathogens of emerging concern, drugs, and anti-microbial resistance (AMR).
This year, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, WaterRA launched the ColoSSoS project, utilising WBE surveillance to track and monitor the presence and persistence of SARS-CoV-2 in sewage networks. Developed and implemented within four weeks of COVID-19 being classed as a global pandemic by The World Health Organisation (WHO), ColoSSoS represents an effort of over 50 organisations across water utilities, health departments, research laboratories, universities, private consultancies and global partners, all brought together by WaterRA.
The impact of ColoSSoS has been immediate and is testament to the 'better-together' approach and unique position in the water sector that WaterRA holds as a hub where industry needs are met by research 'know-how'.
For WBE, ColoSSoS is just the beginning. We are now inviting all of our research members to submit research proposals into four areas of WBE which have been identified by our industry members as challenges which need to be overcome and form part of a national research agenda.

Research Proposals

Research Proposals must involve robust empirical research and relate to one or more of the main research areas identified by Industry. 
All proposals will be reviewed by our Project Selection Committee. The top three research ideas that are selected and funded by industry will also receive seed funding from the ColoSSoS Program.

Main research areas identified by Industry:
  • Robot / sensor improvements 
  • Passive sampler lab and field comparison studies – Understanding association rates
    & maximum association capacity
  • Wastewater sampling & in-situ concentration 
  • Spatial informatics – Health atlas, are some groups more susceptible?
  • Wastewater workers risk
  • Sewage overflows / x-connection risks
  • Whole of effluent test / Population health metrics – determine early warning of declining population health
  • Community perception and reaction to wastewater test results – what are the implications for clinical testing?
  • Ethics – what is the population size that can be considered a community?
  • Shedding rates of viruses and other pathogens
  • Development of wastewater matrix categories – and acceptance / rejection criteria for methods based on sample pre-screening 
  • Genome sequencing – Scan the whole water metagenome using Covid-Sec low-cost broad-spectrum diagnostic tool
  • Genome sequence analysis 
  • Source tracking
  • Online RT-PCT
  • Understanding how WBE fits into the one-health paradigm
  • Understanding virus degradation in wastewater networks
  • Digital twin development opportunities for wastewater networks
  • Effects of various disinfectants on result accuracy
  • Risk of virus in biofilm – like legionella, investigations in opening of buildings after long periods of time


Eligibility and Project Selection Criteria.

Projects must clearly demonstrate the potential for impact – that is, highly likely that the research findings will inform decision-making. Applicants must clearly describe the gap in the existing body of knowledge that their research would fill, and present a clear plan that addresses how the results of the research could be used by end-users. For more details on the selection criteria click here.

WaterRA will work closely with selected applicants to support and enable implementation to achieve impact.

Applicants may apply as institutions, individuals, or small teams.

Successful applications will be expected to produce a final report and other designated outputs as negotiated. All outputs will be reviewed according to WaterRA's peer review and quality assurance process. 

Please note, only the proposals reviewed, selected, and funded by an end-user Project Selection Committee will be eligible for seed funding from the ColoSSoS Program.



Activity Date 
Proposals submitted to

Opens: 16 December 2020

Closes: 22 January 2021

Close date extended to: 5 February 2021

Projects reviewed and top 3 selected by Project Selection Committee February 2021
Industry funding sought for top 3 projects  February 2021
Top industry funded projects (up to 3) notified and receive seed funding February 2021
Projects commence March 2021


How to Apply

The application process involves submitting a proposal that demonstrates adherence to the eligibility outlined above. For applications to be considered, the following three documents must be sent to the email address below by 2pm AEDT on 5 February 2021:

  • WBE Proposal Information – [must read this document before completing the Proposal FORM]
  • WBE Proposal FORM – [click to complete and submit via instructions below]
  • Budget Template – [click to complete and submit via instructions below]
  • CVs of each team member – [to submit via instructions below].

For applications to be considered, the above documents must be completed and sent to (Subject: WBE20 Research Call)

Due Date

Call for proposals closes at 2pm AEDT 5 February 2021.



Any enquiries can be directed to WaterRA Research Manager, Dr Kelly Hill

WaterRA Contact

Dr Kelly Hill

Amount being sought

Research Proposals Only

Due Date

5th Feb, 2021