Federal Government Awards COVID-19 Wastewater Surveillance Contract, Sets Dec. 4 Deadline for Utility Funding

Dec 2, 2020

(December 2, 2020) – A spin-off of the University of Arizona’s Biodesign Center for Environmental Health Engineering, AquaVitas, was awarded a Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) contract to provide additional support for COVID-19 wastewater surveillance on November 13. The contract includes the option for utilities to apply for funding to support wastewater surveillance programs. 

Unfortunately, because there was a delay in the federal government communicating this news to the water sector, NACWA and others only recently became aware about the availability of funds.  The deadline for utilities to express interest in funding support is December 4. Utilities interested in participating should email covid19@aquavitas.com. More information is available here

The contract will be bifurcated into two distinct phases with the first part to test wastewater at POTWs serving large populations (specifically targeting utilities that serve 10% of the US population). This initial phase will take place in the first six weeks, the second phase will enroll additional treatment plants in order to ramp up to the goal of surveilling 30% of the U.S. population.

Participation in Phase 1 will cover raw wastewater influent sampling twice per week for the duration of the study. Data will be compiled and relayed to communities by HHS, with the goal of returning data as soon as possible for local health departments to make quick, actionable decisions.

NACWA is encouraging a second opportunity for POTWs to submit applications to AquaVitas. Although AquaVitas is administering this contract, HHS will ultimately decide which utilities will participate in Phase 1 and Phase 2.

NACWA is hosting a utility executive call with several industry leaders on COVID-19 surveillance efforts and where the state of the science and technology currently stands on December 17. NACWA has also scheduled a call with CDC and EPA on December 17.

Please contact NACWA’s Director of Regulatory Affairs, Emily Remmel, for more information.

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