What Cities Should Know About Wastewater Monitoring

November 3, 2022 - (2 min read)

National League of Cities (NLC) is partnering with WastewaterSCAN on a new national initiative to expand access to a proven public health tool—wastewater monitoring. Your city can apply here!

What is Wastewater Monitoring?

Wastewater (also called sewage) is made with each toilet flush or with water drained from a shower, bathtub, or sink. Wastewater monitoring involves testing samples collected from a community’s wastewater and watching for changes in the levels of a virus or pathogen, such as SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19), to help inform efforts to prevent the spread of infection.

While COVID-19 has been the primary driver of the expansion of wastewater monitoring in the United States, this increasingly important public health tool is also being used to detect influenza, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), and most recently monkeypox (MPX).

Wastewater monitoring is a simple, effective way of building non-invasive, city-wide public health infrastructure that advances equity—because no home, business, or neighborhood served by the sewage treatment system is left out.

What are the Benefits of Joining the New Initiative?

The NLC initiative will bring no-cost wastewater monitoring services to local communities to help inform public health actions. All wastewater results for participating cities will be made available publicly via an online data dashboard. Participating cities are invited to join NLC’s WastewaterSCAN Learning Cohort to engage in learning activities and facilitate the sharing of best practices.

As part of this Learning Cohort, support for participating cities includes:

  • Technical assistance to facilitate the implementation of and sustaining wastewater testing in your community
  • Laboratory testing for SARS-CoV-2 and variants, influenza, RSV, and MPX
  • Free test kits and shipping for three samples per week
  • Results posted on data dashboard within 48 hours of shipment
  • Guidance for using the data to drive public health action
  • Engagement in peer-to-peer learning with communities from across the country

The WastewaterSCAN partnership is a natural extension of NLC’s past and ongoing work to help elected and appointed city officials protect the health and safety of community members.

Visit the WastewaterSCAN Booth at City Summit 2022

NLC is excited to be hosting our new partner at this year’s City Summit in Kansas City, MO from November 17-19, 2022. If you are attending City Summit, please stop by booth #329 to learn more about the initiative or click to apply.

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