Virtual International Water Research Summit on COVID-19


The Water Research Foundation (WRF) was proud to host a groundbreaking Virtual International Water Research Summit on Environmental Surveillance of COVID-19 Indicators in Sewersheds. The Summit addressed several technical issues to further advance the work researchers are performing throughout the world, including:

  • Location, timing, and procedures for collecting and preserving samples of wastewater
  • Approaches for identifying the concentration of indicators of COVID-19 in wastewater samples
  • Relationship between concentrations of COVID-19 indicators and the presence and progress of COVID-19 cases in the community, including the severity of disease and length of time since the initial infection
  • The sensitivity of analytical results as an indicator of changes in community prevalence of COVID-19

Through shared expertise, knowledge of industry standards and best practices, and lessons learned from first-hand experiences, Summit participants developed and presented a coordinated, near-term research roadmap that addresses critical areas in which additional research is needed. Following the summit, WRF will join with funding partners to quickly address the research gaps identified by Summit participants. 


Opening Session

Monday, April 27, 2020

During the Opening Session, scientific and water sector experts will provide a snapshot of the current state of knowledge on wastewater sampling, molecular genetics tools, the use of indicator concentrations to estimate disease prevalence, and how to communicate this information to stakeholders.

  • Peter Grevatt, PhD, The Water Research Foundation
  • Dan Gerrity, PhD, Southern Nevada Water Authority
  • Chuck Gerba, PhD, University of Arizona
  • Scott Meschke, JD, University of Washington
  • Krista Wigginton, PhD, University of Michigan
  • Gertjan Medema, PhD, KWR Water Research Institute in Nieuwegein, the Netherlands
  • Doug Yoder, Miami-Dade Water and Sewer
  • Jim McQuarrie, Metro Wastewater Reclamation District
  • Dan Deere, PhD, Water Futures Australia

View - Opening Session

View the slides


Closing Session

Thursday, April 30, 2020

The Closing Session of the Virtual International Water Research Summit on Environmental Surveillance of COVID-19 Indicators in Sewersheds presented new recommendations related to the tasks assigned to the Working Groups (more information below). In addition to enhanced best practices, the Working Groups also shared concrete recommendations for near-term research projects that could fill knowledge gaps in each of the four areas.

Details on The Water Research Foundation's plans to solicit partners and fund this research were also shared.

  • Christobel Ferguson, PhD, Chief Innovation Officer, The Water Research Foundation - Welcome
  • Chuck Haas, PhD, Drexel University - Recommended Use Cases for Environmental Surveillance of COVID-19 Signal in SewershedsCathy Bailey, Greater Cincinnati Water Works - Communication of Environmental Surveillance Results with the Public Health Community, Elected Officials, Wastewater Workers, and the Public
  • Jim Pletl, PhD, Hampton Roads Sanitation District - Sample Design, Collection, and Preservation of Wastewater Samples
  • Kellogg Schwab, PhD, Johns Hopkins University - Use of Molecular Genetics Tools to Quantify the COVID-19 Signal in Wastewater Samples
  • Vanessa Speight, PhD, University of Sheffield - Research Opportunities to Strengthen Environmental Surveillance of COVID-19 Signal in Sewersheds
  • Matt Burd, New York City Department of Environmental Protection - Research Opportunities to Accelerate Progress on Monitoring of COVID-19 in Sewersheds
  • Joan Rose, PhD, Michigan State University - Research Opportunities for Analysis of COVID-19 Signal in Sewersheds
  • Cathy Bailey, Greater Cincinnati Water Works - Research Opportunities to Enhance Communication of Monitoring Results of Indicators of COVID-19 in Sewersheds
  • Peter Grevatt, PhD, The Water Research Foundation - Q&A and Next Steps

View - Closing Session

View the Slides


Working Groups

Working Group 1
  • Task - Develop best practices and standardized procedures for the collection and storage of wastewater samples
  • Co-Chairs - Chuck Gerba, Arizona State University; Jim Pletl, Hampton Roads Sanitation District; Dan Gerrity, Southern Nevada Water Authority; Alice Fulmer, WRF
Working Group 2
  • Task - Develop best practices for the use of molecular genetics tools to identify the concentration of indicators of COVID-19 in wastewater samples
  • Co-Chairs - Krista Wigginton, University of Michigan; Frederic Béen, KWR; Joan Rose, Michigan State University; Christobel Ferguson, WRF
Working Group 3
  • Task - Develop recommended approaches for use of indicator concentrations to inform trends and estimates of community prevalence
  • Co-Chairs - Chuck Haas, Drexel University; Doug Yoder, Miami-Dade Water, and Sewer Department; Gertjan Medema, KWR; Vanessa Speight, University of Sheffield; John Albert, WRF
Working Group 4
  • Task - Develop strategies to communicate the implications of environmental surveillance results with the public health community, elected officials, wastewater workers, and the public
  • Co-Chairs - Cathy Bailey, Greater Cincinnati Water Works; Jim McQuarrie, Metro Wastewater Reclamation District; Dan Deere, Water Futures; Lexie Vean, WRF