SA Water’s COVID-19 wastewater monitoring program is being exported interstate and overseas. 

Authorities in Cambodia, Thailand and Vietnam have enlisted the support of SA Water’s scientists to provide technical guidance on sampling and analytical techniques for wastewater.

SA Water has also been asked to produce training material to help establish surveillance programs.

The utility’s testing capability is also helping monitor for COVID-19 fragments in Tasmania, and parts of New South Wales and the Northern Territory’s wastewater.

“The local water utilities provide sewage samples taken from their major treatment plants to ensure we capture a large amount of the population, and the samples are processed in our Adelaide-based laboratory,” says SA Water’s Senior Manager of Water Expertise and Research Dr Daniel Hoefel.

“Our testing detected the presence of COVID-19 in their communities before it could be picked up by clinical testing during recent clusters, enabling authorities to implement targeted health strategies sooner.”

Water authorities across Australia and the world are interested in SA Water’s use of ‘sewage submarines’.
The devices are 3D-printed and assembled in-house, before being submerged across the state’s wastewater network. The submarines can stay in sewage for up to four days to increase the likelihood of exposure to the virus.

Last year, SA Water’s scientists also developed a specialised molecular technique to identify the COVID-19 virus’ genetic signature, and established methodology to determine how much of it is present in sewage.