Monitoring wastewater for COVID-19

UCalgary researchers are working with community partners to detect traces of SARS-CoV-2 in Calgary's wastewater

A faster way to detect clusters of COVID-19 infection in the population is critical to avoiding future outbreaks — and what’s going down your drain could help public health officials catch outbreaks sooner.

UCalgary researchers from the Cumming School of Medicine, Faculty of Science, and Schulich School of Engineering; Advancing Canadian Wastewater Assets (ACWA), The City of Calgary, and Alberta Health Services (AHS) have teamed up to test Calgary wastewater for early signs of COVID-19 cases. 

Contact us

We're looking for partners to further expand this project. Want to get involved? Contact Kevin Frankwoski, Executive Director, ACWA. 

Contact us

Team Leads

  • Dr. Michael Parkins, MD (Cumming School of Medicine)
  • Dr. Casey Hubert, PhD (Faculty of Science)
  • Kevin Frankowski (ACWA)

University of Calgary 

  • Alex Buchner Beaudet (Cumming School of Medicine)
  • Alexander Krusina (Centre for Health Informatics, Cumming School of Medicine)
  • Andra Bacanu (Faculty of Science)
  • Barbara Waddell (Cumming School of Medicine)
  • Carmen Li (Faculty of Science)
  • Dr. Cathy Ryan, PhD (Faculty of Science)
  • Chloe Papparis (Faculty of Science)
  • Danielle Southern (Centre for Health Informatics, Cumming School of Medicine)
  • Dr. Gopal Achari, PhD (Schulich School of Engineering)
  • Janine McCalder (Faculty of Science)
  • Dr. Jianwei Chen, PhD (Faculty of Science)
  • Dr. Jon Meddings, MD (Cumming School of Medicine)
  • Dr. Jordan Hollman, PhD (Schulich School of Engineering)
  • Lawrence Man (Cumming School of Medicine)
  • Dr. María Bautista. PhD (Faculty of Science)
  • Navid Sedaghat (Faculty of Science)
  • Dr. Nicole Acosta, PhD (Cumming School of Medicine)
  • Puja Pradhan (Faculty of Science)
  • Dr. Rhonda Clark, PhD (Faculty of Science)
  • Dr. Srijak Bhatnagar, PhD (Faculty of Science)
  • Dr. Tyler Williamson, PhD (Centre for Health Informatics, Cumming School of Medicine)

ACWA

  • Dr. Darina Kuzma, PhD

Alberta Health Services

  • Dr. Jason Cabaj, MD
  • Dr. Jia Hu, MD
  • Dr. John Conly, MD

C.E.C. Analytics

  • Dr. Paul Westlund, PhD

City of Calgary

  • Dr.Norma Ruecker, PhD et. al

Water Research, Volume 201, 2021
117369, ISSN 0043-1354,
https://doi.org/10.1016/j.watres.2021.117369

"A multicenter study investigating SARS-CoV-2 in tertiary-care hospital wastewater. Viral burden correlates with increasing hospitalized cases as well as hospital-associated transmissions and outbreaks"

Nicole Acosta, María A. Bautista, Jordan Hollman, Janine McCalder, Alexander Buchner Beaudet, Lawrence Man, Barbara J. Waddell, Jianwei Chen, Carmen Li, Darina Kuzma, Srijak Bhatnagar, Jenine Leal, Jon Meddings, Jia Hu, Jason L. Cabaj, Norma J. Ruecker, Christopher Naugler, Dylan R. Pillai, Gopal Achari, M. Cathryn Ryan, John M. Conly, Kevin Frankowski, Casey RJ Hubert, Michael D. Parkins

 

Researcher in lab

Pan-Alberta Wastewater Monitoring

University of Calgary and University of Alberta team up to track evidence of COVID-19 in wastewater of 3.2M people across Alberta

Read more

Wastewater monitoring for public health

The UCalgary COVID-19 wastewater monitoring team show how they gather and process samples, and share the data online. 

Read the article

wastewater sampler unit

View real-time COVID-19 data

See how wastewater sampling is being used to track current COVID-19 case counts in your area on the Centre for Health Informatics (CHI) COVID-19 Tracker.

Visit the COVID-19 Tracker

Frequently asked questions


What is Wastewater-based Epidemiology (WBE)?

Wastewater-based Epidemiology (WBE) is the process of analyzing wastewater to measure levels of selected substances. It is a method of monitoring for pathogens such as SARS-CoV-2, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, or other substances of concern. 

How is WBE helping us manage COVID-19?

Wastewater data captures all COVID-19 cases in a defined population, including symptomatic and asymptomatic cases.

The data shows that high levels of traces of SARS-CoV-2 in wastewater are followed by a rise in clinically diagnosed cases, which suggests that this technology can be used as an early warning system. Alberta Heath Services is looking at the data as an additional tool to understand how COVID-19 is spreading in the community.

In the news

coronavirus

The COVID-19 wasteland: searching for clues in the sewers

Using municipal waste water to look for evidence of the virus behind COVID-19 is part of a rapidly expanding body of science. The virus is shed in human waste, often before a patient even knows they are sick.

Read more in the Globe and Mail

wastewater testing in lab

Calgary wastewater samples show recent spike in coronavirus

The data shows levels of the virus trending upward, and sample points higher than the previous highs seen in mid-December, when Calgary was in its second wave

Read more in the Calgary Herald

wastewater

Experts identify rise of COVID-19 in Calgary wastewater

Experts have been studying wastewater data for levels of the virus, and they’re seeing higher levels than ever before

Read more on CityNews

wastewater map

New website lets Calgarians track traces of COVID-19

A new website that tracks traces of COVID-19 found in Calgary’s wastewater is now up and running and available to the public

Read more on Global News

UCalgary News


Alberta’s largest research universities team up to track evidence of COVID-19 in wastewater of 3.2M people across Alberta

Funding provided by Government of Alberta supports provincial monitoring network and online tracker tool

Read more

Research proves that testing hospital wastewater for COVID-19 can help catch localized outbreaks faster

Wastewater monitoring has potential to revolutionize how we track public health

Read more

Calgarians can now track traces of COVID-19 in their wastewater

Data available to public thanks to UCalgary, City of Calgary, and Alberta Health Services partnership

Read more

Listening, learning and sharing are key to successful COVID-19 wastewater project

Award-winning interdisciplinary team tracks local COVID cases one manhole at a time

Read more

UCalgary, The City of Calgary and AHS team up in the fight against COVID-19

Wastewater samples will help identify local outbreaks, fast

Read more

Federal government announces funding for COVID-19 research projects

Exceptional Opportunities Fund invests in research infrastructure for 3 UCalgary projects

Read more

Announcing UCalgary’s Peak Scholars in COVID-19 Innovation Excellence

Scholars recognized for their commitment to entrepreneurialism and innovation

Read more