Somerville, MA – Global design firm Stantec has partnered with Northeastern University and the city of Somerville, located two miles north of Boston, on a neighborhood-level COVID-19 wastewater testing program focused on early detection and intervention.
The program provides city officials with a more real-time understanding of COVID-19 infection trends at a time when concerns of a second wave of the virus are top of mind in communities across the globe.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the novel coronavirus can be shed in the feces of infected patients. By testing sewage samples from various locations around the city, officials will be able to identify potential outbreaks up to two weeks faster than traditional testing allows.
As the city’s on-call engineering firm for sewer work and design, Stantec is overseeing the sampling effort, aiding in the selection of sampling locations, collection of weekly samples, and interpretation of lab results from Northeastern University leveraging Stantec’s in-depth knowledge of Somerville’s sewer system and combined sewer overflow network. For locations where sample collection from sewers will impact vehicular traffic, Stantec is also providing traffic management plans and equipment.
As part of the program, ten samples will be collected each week, with priority given to the neighborhoods around Tufts University, public schools, and areas with high concentrations of vulnerable residents or high density. Because the samples are collected from city sewer access points, the results are completely anonymous and will not identify any one household or building as a source of infection.