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COVID-19 — Implications for the Water and Wastewater Industry

Abstract: Owing to the high degree of infectivity of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, the COVID-19 pandemic has rapidly spread and infected many individuals worldwide. Although the primary route of transmission is via the respiratory tract, the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 has also been found to be shed from the body through feces. The SARS-CoV-2 virus is similar to the virus that caused the 2003 SARS pandemic, when a cluster of infections was found to have been due to aerosolized sewage. With the presence of this virus a possibility in sewage, water and wastewater professionals must be aware of the potential for infection due to water- and wastewater-borne routes. Research is needed to determine the actual viral load in sewage, the possibility for infection from sewage, the virus’s persistence in wastewater treatment facilities and in the environment, and the effectiveness of conventional disinfection processes for inactivating this virus.

Authors: John Bergendahl, PhD., PE, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Marina Fernandes, PE, LEED AP, Tighe & Bond, Wayne E. Bates, PhD., PE, Tighe & Bond

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