Boxelder monitors wastewater for early COVID-19 detection

As a longstanding member of the community, Boxelder Sanitation District (BSD) does more than just treat wastewater. BSD has a long history of collaboration with municipalities and water entities throughout Northern Colorado, supporting our neighbors in a variety of ways.

Our newest collaboration efforts involve participating in an innovative program to gather data to support state officials in COVID-19 monitoring and tracking.

BSD has joined 17 other wastewater utilities across Colorado, serving 60% of the state’s population, to participate in a COVID-19 wastewater surveillance collaborative funded by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE). BSD is working with Colorado State University (CSU) and Metro State University (MSU) to develop a statewide wastewater surveillance system for testing of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.

The state has provided $520,000 in funding to ensure facilities such as BSD can provide an early warning, ranging from a matter of days to a week, to state and local health authorities. The system identifies significant changes that could indicate future COVID-19 outbreaks and potential virus hot spots.

Wastewater can tell you what is happening in the population. People with positive COVID-19 shed virus in their stool and the testing can detect traces of the virus. The idea is, if we see an increase in positive test results, it would provide a lead time for the health department and community to respond to a possible outbreak.

BSD is collecting samples from influent wastewater (water that has not yet been treated) twice a week. Those samples are then delivered to CSU for testing to track COVID-19 virus particles. Using that data, they can detect the prevalence of the disease in the community.

How it works

This innovative practice, which is being implemented around the world to detect the coronavirus, involves CDPHE working with wastewater facilities such as BSD to develop a sampling plan that documents where the samples are collected, procedures for collecting and preserving the sample and safety protocols for all employees involved in the process.

Once the samples are collected, CSU and MSU oversee the testing and documentation of the samples to see if COVID-19 is detected. Considering people can be carriers of the disease and not express any symptoms, the ability to detect COVID-19 in human waste is a valuable tool for scientists.

Without BSD’s contribution to this collaborative effort, the datasets would be incomplete and less effective when decision-makers analyze it. The data will not be directly released from BSD and will take time to be gathered as part of the collaborative program.

Future expansion

There is the potential for additional monitoring in the future for the program, depending on the lab’s capacity in the start-up. More monitoring means more data and more data means better-equipped health experts to defend against COVID-19 and other possible pandemics.

BSD is on the front lines of this innovative testing process that could eventually be installed in broader regions or in more specific areas if it is a success.

The possibility exists to institute such monitoring systems in places like care facilities and college dormitories, where there is a dense population of people that could get the disease if it were present.

In other BSD news

This fall BSD is upgrading its accounting software as part of our ongoing commitment of providing outstanding customer service.

As part of the upgrade, customers receiving statements in the mail will notice a few changes to the design of the bill. The new bills are expected to look like the sample shown here.

There will be no changes to the paperless statements provided by Xpress Bill Pay.

Options for paying your bill will remain the same. Customers are encouraged to sign up for automatic payment with Xpress Bill Pay. A link to Xpress is available on our website boxeldersanitation.org.

As always, if you have questions about your bill, please call us at 970-498-0604, or contact us at info@boxeldersanitation.org.

 

NOTICE OF PUBLIC HEARING

Notice is hereby given that at 9:00 a.m. on Thursday, October 15, 2020, the Board of Directors of Boxelder Sanitation District will hold a public hearing to consider adopting proposed modifications to the District’s Rules and Regulations, including those pertaining to the Industrial Pretreatment Program.

NOTICE