Tracking COVID in Bay Area Sewers

November 4, 2020

UC Berkeley researchers have developed a unique, easy, and effective method for testing the presence of the COVID-19 virus in the wastewater flowing through municipal sewer systems. 

Tim Pine, an environmental protection specialist, and Al Sanchez, a senior hazardous materials technician of the Office of Environment, Health and Safety have been collecting weekly samples of wastewater from University Village since mid-July and also samples from sewers that drain from UC Berkeley’s undergraduate dormitories and surrounding neighborhoods. Testing of wastewater will help guide public policy-makers on where and how to implement COVID-19 prevention and treatment plans. For full story, visit:

Tracking COVID in our sewers

(Video by Clare Major and Roxanne Makasdjian)

UC Berkeley launches pop-up lab to monitor
Bay Area sewage for COVID-19

Originally posted in by Kara Manke on October 29, 2020.

Since the discovery that people infected with COVID-19 often shed the virus in their feces, scientists around the world have scrambled to spot signs of the virus in the stuff that we flush.

However, detecting tiny virus particles amid the wastewater that flows through our sewage pipes — which includes not only toilet water, but sink water, shower water and everything else that goes down a drain — is no easy feat.

A team of scientists at the University of California, Berkeley, has spent months refining and optimizing a rapid and low-cost new technique to test wastewater for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. This month, the team has launched a new high-throughput pop-up lab — a temporary 1200-square-foot lab, rapidly set up in an empty research space in Hildebrand Hall — that, in conjunction with UC Berkeley and wastewater utilities and public health agencies from throughout the Bay Area, will monitor the region’s wastewater for the virus.

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