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Posted on: August 1, 2021

Wastewater Of Over 500,000 Iowans Being Tested For Covid-19 And Variants

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The DMMWRA is participating in a national program to test wastewater for the presence of COVID-19 to better track outbreaks and variants.

The Des Moines Metropolitan Wastewater Reclamation Authority (DMMWRA) is now participating in a national study of wastewater that is tracking the presence and concentration of COVID-19 and its variants by testing wastewater samples from across the country.

The DMMWRA treats, cleans and returns wastewater to the Des Moines River from 17 metro communities and over half-a-million residents. The program will be ongoing for the next 8-9 weeks as the DMMWRA takes multiple samples a week and sends them to a national lab at the cost of the program that is a partnership between the US Department of Health and Human Services, the CDC, the National Institutes of Health, and Biobot Analytics.

"A major part of our mission at the WRA is to protect public health,” DMMWRA Director Scott Hutchens said. “So any way that we can provide vital information to help fight COVID-19 is a step that we’re excited to take for our residents."

As a part of federal efforts to expand a national wastewater monitoring system for COVID-19, the program will cover over 100 million people in 50+ states across the United States with hundreds of wastewater treatment plants participating.

This program will generate information that will allow for more effective responses in the next phase of the COVID-19 pandemic as testing numbers decline and will enable public health officials to accurately track the virus as vaccination coverage increases, communities reopen and variants emerge.

Results are distributed on a bi-weekly basis.

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