How the DEP Is Monitoring NYC’s Wastewater for COVID

New York conducts wastewater surveillance to track the spread of COVID-19 and help predict a possible rise in cases. This method allows health officials to detect the virus as early as three to seven days before seeing an increase in COVID positive test rates or hospitalizations.

Wastewater surveillance is a swift, confidential, and accurate way to detect illness-causing pathogens. The NYC Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) protects public health, in part by collecting and treating wastewater. Learn how the DEP is monitoring NYC’s wastewater for COVID and improving the city’s response to the virus.

Wastewater Surveillance Process

Since 2020, the DEP has been monitoring wastewater for SARS-CoV-2 in partnership with the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH). Wastewater testing helps public health specialists identify disease hotspots and warn the community as early as possible.

Collecting and Analyzing Samples

The DEP collects samples from all 14 Wastewater Resource Recovery Facilities twice a week. These facilities treat 1.3 billion gallons of wastewater daily from every NYC neighborhood.

The Newtown Creek Microbiological Laboratory analyzes these samples. Then, they send the data to the DOHMH. The DOHMH examines the data from the lab, looking for patterns and other information that can improve the city’s response to the virus.

Why the Process Works

People infected with SARS-CoV-2 shed the virus’s genetic material, ribonucleic acid (RNA), in their waste. There is no credible evidence that people can contract COVID from wastewater.

When the DEP monitors NYC’s wastewater for COVID, they quantify the volume of RNA in the sample. Reviewing the patterns in the data allows health authorities to track the virus’s prevalence.

The numbers also serve as an early warning for predicting outbreaks. By closely tracking RNA concentrations, public health officials can respond with targeted interventions, such as increased testing, contact tracing, and public awareness campaigns.

Plans for Developing Wastewater Surveillance

While wastewater surveillance is a helpful tool, there are some limitations. Wastewater may contain compounds that interfere with taking accurate RNA measurements. The lab must tailor all analytical methods to the particular wastewater mixture to ensure reliable results.

The DEP is building a program to monitor sewage for other potential virus outbreaks, including seasonal flus. The DEP and other agencies are working to make wastewater surveillance more comprehensive. Researchers can expand the testing method and use it to detect well-known and novel pathogens.

The DEP and Clean Drinking Water

Monitoring wastewater for SARS-CoV-2 is just one way the DEP protects public health. The DEP also manages the city’s water supply to ensure clean drinking water.

When the DEP notices a leak from a residential or commercial water service pipe, they issue a notice for repair that the owner must complete within three business days. If you’ve received a three-day notice, contact Harris Water Main and Sewer Contractors. We efficiently complete professional repairs on DEP water main breaks to restore clean and safe water to the affected communities.

Get a Free Quote

    Emergency Service
    • 718-280-9525
    • 718-228-7517
    HARRIS WATER MAIN & SEWER·2600 Atlantic Avenue · Brooklyn · NY · 11207
    Copyright © 2012-2023 Harris Water Main and Sewer Contractors. All rights reserved.

    Keep up with us on: