WaterRA is leading an innovative, and collaborative Australia-wide investigation that aims to integrate reliable results of sewage testing for the SARS-CoV-2 virus with health data for COVID-19 on a national basis.
The ColoSSoS Project – Collaboration on Sewage Surveillance of SARS-COV-2 — will track and monitor the presence of the virus that causes COVID-19 and its persistence in the Australian sewerage network, thus providing information on where it is present in the population.
Sewage monitoring has been successfully used for some years to monitor pathogen presence, persistence and occurrence patterns across Australia and internationally. Similar studies of chemical substance have also been undertaken. The information on pathogens is used to inform the assessment of risks from exposure to sewage by sewer workers and plumbers, to inform treatment requirements for sewage to be recycled and to assess public health risks from discharges to the environments. In addition, the information it used to assist tracking of disease patterns in the community, to help follow epidemic patterns and identify regional hotspots. The evidence is particularly useful in that the testing is non-invasive and doesn’t require patient sampling and it is able to be carried out systematically in a statistically sound manner over time. However, to date, the analyses have been undertaken with established enteric viruses, and not the COVID-19 virus.
The broad aims of this project are to attempt to:
a) help with the current pandemic incident, and
b) build capability for the next pandemic and smaller events of public health significance
Therefore, this project will develop, validate and apply methods for sewage monitoring to track and monitor COVID-19 virus presence and persistence in the Australian sewerage networks and population.
WaterRA will coordinate this national effort to understanding of COVID-19 and the associated virus (SARS-CoV-2) in our wastewater systems. As a part of this project research will be conducted in various states accross Australia.
Additional small components of the project is active liaison with:
Thank you to all who have committed to collaborate or sent through proposals for future research.
Currently we are seeking funds and in-kind support from utilities and health departments to collaborate on this national project.