Wastewater Surveillance

The Loxahatchee River District (LRD) is conducting Wastewater Surveillance to monitor trends of infection rates of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, within our sewer system area, which serves approximately 100,000 customers.

Wastewater, or sewage, is water from our toilets, shower, and sinks and contains human waste.  This wastewater is transported and treated at LRD’s Wastewater Treatment Facility.  LRD is working with Biobot Analytics, a leader in molecular testing of wastewater for SARS-CoV-2, to assess the prevalence of SARS-CoV-2 virus fragments in our untreated wastewater samples collected over a 24hr period at LRD’s Treatment Facility.

These SARS-CoV-2 virus fragments are shed from individuals infected with the virus, including both symptomatic and asymptomatic infections.  Because individuals shed huge amounts of SARS-CoV-2 early in their infection, even before symptoms, wastewater surveillance of SARS-CoV-2 virus fragments is a proven early indicator of COVID-19 infection rates in a community. Research has shown the relative abundance of SARS-CoV-2 virus fragments in wastewater samples correlates with and precedes clinical cases within the community by 5 to 14 days.

LRD is presently testing our wastewater for SARS-CoV-2 virus fragments twice per month.  Below we provide graphical summaries of virus fragment concentrations alongside clinical cases obtained from the Florida Department of Health for zip codes 33458, 33477 and 33469, which generally overlap with our sewer service area.  Also below are Biobot’s Laboratory Reports, links to more information, and our proposed schedule for sampling.

Notes:

  • Wastewater results updated upon receipt; FDOH data updated at midnight.
  • Click on the double arrows on the lower right of the charts panel to view full screen, Esc to cancel full screen.
  • If there is a usually high FDOH case count (e.g. double the previous observation) that follows a gap or zero reading, our automated data download occurred before FDOH’s update. This data will be corrected.
  • Because of the exponential growth of viruses, the CDC and other scientists recommend the presentation of concentration data on a Log Scale (the figures with the orange line).  Also, because of variability in the data, the CDC and other scientists advise monitoring the general trends of data, rather than the specific concentration of virus.

Biobot’s Laboratory Reports

Planned Sampling Schedule (subject to change).

Results are received and posted 3 to 5 business days after sampling.

November 16 & 30, 2020December 14 & 28, 2020January 11 & 25, 2021
February 9 & 23, 2021March 10 & 24, 2021April 7 & 21, 2021
May 12 & 26, 2021June 9 & 23, 2021

For more information please contact Bud Howard, Director of Information Services, at bud.howard@lrecd.org or (561) 401-4037.