July 21, 2020 (Moscow, Idaho) -- As reported on July 13, the City of Moscow Water Reuse and Reclamation Facility has participated in a nation-wide wastewater testing program to monitor the presence of COVID-19 in wastewater by Biobot Analytics Inc. Biobot's process identifies, replicates, and measures viral RNA (ribonucleic acid) within a given wastewater sample. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Biobot has analyzed COVID-19 prevalence in roughly 400 cities across America. Biobot states that its methods for detecting SARS-CoV-2 in sewage was adapted from CDC protocols and relies on identifying the virus's genetic fragments excreted in the stool. Detailed information regarding Biobot's methodology is available at www.biobot.io/covid19.
From May through July, the City of Moscow has participated in the Biobot program. Reports for the first three tests conducted in May resulted in no detectable cases COVID-19. Since that time, tests have resulted in the following estimated cases:
- Sample Date - May 27, Report Date - June 26, Biobot Estimated Cases - 190
- Sample Date - July 1, Report Date - July 9, Biobot Estimated Cases - 1,400
- Sample Date - July 13, Report Date - July 17, Biobot Estimated Cases -1,800
Estimating COVID-19 cases from wastewater analysis is an emerging science, and several variables could impact accuracy, especially in a smaller system like Moscow's. These include rain events, daily flow variations, cleaning of sewer lines, etc.
Moving forward, the City will participate with the University of Idaho Biological Sciences and Civil & Environmental Engineering Departments, in partnership with the Institute for Modeling Collaboration and Interaction, to coordinate a regional wastewater testing program. Results from this testing program are expected in the coming weeks.
The Moscow Water Reclamation and Reuse Facility serves the area within Moscow City limits and the Southeast Moscow Sewer District located just outside of Moscow east city limit boundary. Water Reuse and Reclamation Facility
Story Contact: Tyler Palmer, Deputy City Supervisor, Public Works & Services