Implementing wastewater surveillance for SARS-CoV-2 on a university campus: Lessons learned

Thumbnail Image

Publication or External Link





Wartell, B. A., Proano, C., Bakalian, L., Kaya, D., Croft, K., McCreary, M., Lichtenstein, N., Miske, V., Arcellana, P., Boyer, J., Benschoten, I. V., Anderson, M., Crabb, A., Gilson, S., Gourley, A., Wheeler, T., Trest, B., Bowman, G., & Kjellerup, B. V. (2022). Implementing wastewater surveillance for SARS-CoV-2 on a university campus: Lessons learned. Water Environment Research, 94(11), e10807.


Wastewater surveillance, also known as wastewater-based epidemiology (WBE), has been successfully used to detect SARS-CoV-2 and other viruses in sewage in many locations in the United States and globally. This includes implementation of the surveillance on college and university campuses. A two-phase study was conducted during the 2020–2021 academic year to test the feasibility of a WBE system on campus and to supplement the clinical COVID-19 testing performed for the student, staff, and faculty body. The primary objective during the Fall 2020 semester was to monitor a large portion of the on-campus population and to obtain an understanding of the spreading of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. The Spring 2021 objective was focused on selected residence halls and groups of residents on campus, as this was more efficient and relevant for an effective follow-up response. Logistical problems and planning oversights initially occurred but were corrected with improved communication and experience. Many lessons were learned, including effective mapping, site planning, communication, personnel organization, and equipment management, and obtained along the way, thereby paving an opportune guide for future planning efforts.