The City of Albany is continuing to participate in a national pro bono study to identify the SARS-CoV2 virus in pre-treated wastewater. Since April 2020, the City has sent five weekly samples, collected at the Albany-Millersburg Water Reclamation Facility, to Biobot Laboratories in Somerville, Mass., for analysis.
Samples collected on April 6 and April 14 detected the presence of the SARS-CoV-2 virus in wastewater and corresponded to 5.5% and 2.7% of the population, respectively. Sample results for April 21, 2020 indicated no virus detectable above about 1 in 7,500 people.
The Biobot team continues to refine their epidemiological model and methodology. Biobot has informed study participants that they are working on different methodologies to normalize or smooth out the sample results.
“The City is not necessarily focused on the week-to-week changes in the results, but what a longer-term trend of results and case estimates may mean to helping Albany plan for our COVID-19 response,” said David Gilbey, Environmental Services Manager. “We have to keep in mind that this is a developing model.”
The wastewater study has participating agencies in 42 states, with Oregon, California, Texas, Colorado, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Idaho, and New York the most represented.