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Wastewater surveillance for SARS-CoV-2 on college campuses: Initial efforts, lessons learned and research needs

Harris-Lovett, Sasha and Nelson, Kara and Beamer, Paloma and Bischel, Heather N. and Bivins, Aaron and Bruder, Andrea and Butler, Caitlyn and Camenisch, Todd D. and De Long, Susan K. and Karthikeyan, Smruthi and Larsen, David A. and Meierdiercks, Katherine and Mouser, Paula and Pagsuyoin, Sheree and Prasek, Sarah and Radniecki, Tyler S. and Ram, Jeffrey L. and Roper, D. Keith and Safford, Hannah and Sherchan, Samendra P. and Shuster, William and Stalder, Thibault and Wheeler, Robert T. and Korfmacher, Katrina Smith (2021) Wastewater surveillance for SARS-CoV-2 on college campuses: Initial efforts, lessons learned and research needs. . (Unpublished)

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Background: Wastewater surveillance for SARS-CoV-2 is an emerging approach to help identify the risk of a COVID-19 outbreak. This tool can contribute to public health surveillance at both community (wastewater treatment system) and institutional (e.g., colleges, prisons, nursing homes) scales. Objectives: This research aims to understand the successes, challenges, and lessons learned from initial wastewater surveillance efforts at colleges and university systems to inform future research, development and implementation. Methods:This paper presents the experiences of 25 college and university systems in the United States that monitored campus wastewater for SARS-CoV-2 during the fall 2020 academic period. We describe the broad range of approaches, findings, resource needs, and lessons learned from these initial efforts. These institutions range in size, social and political geographies, and include both public and private institutions. Discussion: Our analysis suggests that wastewater monitoring at colleges requires consideration of information needs, local sewage infrastructure, resources for sampling and analysis, college and community dynamics, approaches to interpretation and communication of results, and follow-up actions. Most colleges reported that a learning process of experimentation, evaluation, and adaptation was key to progress. This process requires ongoing collaboration among diverse stakeholders including decision-makers, researchers, faculty, facilities staff, students, and community members.

Item Type:Report or Paper (Discussion Paper)
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription Paper CentralDiscussion Paper ItemArticle
Harris-Lovett, Sasha0000-0001-9006-6895
Nelson, Kara0000-0001-8899-2662
Beamer, Paloma0000-0001-5287-2183
Bischel, Heather N.0000-0001-8335-0601
Bivins, Aaron0000-0001-9385-2138
Butler, Caitlyn0000-0001-6887-3375
Camenisch, Todd D.0000-0002-7797-9822
De Long, Susan K.0000-0002-3160-2392
Karthikeyan, Smruthi0000-0001-6226-4536
Larsen, David A.0000-0002-1876-6536
Meierdiercks, Katherine0000-0003-3749-2785
Mouser, Paula0000-0003-2316-0915
Pagsuyoin, Sheree0000-0001-7134-1679
Radniecki, Tyler S.0000-0002-5295-3562
Ram, Jeffrey L.0000-0002-1063-546X
Safford, Hannah0000-0001-9283-2602
Sherchan, Samendra P.0000-0002-0092-7928
Shuster, William0000-0001-7688-0110
Stalder, Thibault0000-0002-8368-1889
Wheeler, Robert T.0000-0003-3223-7021
Korfmacher, Katrina Smith0000-0002-8926-4082
Additional Information:The authors would like to thank these individuals for their important contributions to this research and information about their colleges’ wastewater surveillance systems: Aaron Best, Walter Betancourt, Cindi K. Brinkman, Lifang Chiang, Erik R. Coats, David Freedman, Elmer Johnson, Rob Knight, Karl Korfmacher, Erin K. Lipp, Erin A. Mack, Christopher Maroney, Simona Matsoyan, Ian Pepper, Shalina Shahin, Lachlan Squair, Eva M. Top, and Rogelio Zuniga-Montanez. Dr. Korfmacher’s work on this project was supported in part by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences grant P30 ES001247. Dr. Harris-Lovett’s work on this project was supported in part by the Catena Foundation. The content of this manuscript is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the views of contributors, interviewees, or institutions included in the study. The authors declare they have no actual or potential competing financial interests.
Funding AgencyGrant Number
NIHP30 ES001247
Catena FoundationUNSPECIFIED
PubMed Central ID:PMC7872386
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20221215-540238000.11
Persistent URL:
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:118349
Deposited By: George Porter
Deposited On:17 Dec 2022 00:20
Last Modified:17 Dec 2022 03:47

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