Wastewater Pilot Launches in Denver

Published on March 15, 2023

In a continued effort to better understand the spread of COVID-19 and to reduce the level of transmission in our community, the Denver Department of Public Health & Environment (DDPHE) is piloting a new program to sample wastewater in various locations around the city.

Wastewater monitoring is a reliable and proven indicator used throughout the pandemic to understand and predict transmission trends. In the initial phase of the pilot, DDPHE is partnering with Denver Public Schools, shelters for people experiencing homelessness, other public facilities and the Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment (CDPHE) to test wastewater for COVID-19. Testing wastewater is one of many tools Denver epidemiologists use to understand community transmission of the virus and can act as an early warning system for public health officials.

Wastewater sampling will begin this week and will be collected at sewer access points on public grounds or in manholes near participating locations. Residents may see DDPHE staff in personal protective equipment (PPE) collecting samples from time to time. There is no indication there is higher COVID-19 transmission at participating sites and the sites will not be required to implement any new prevention strategies based on the results of wastewater testing.

Sampling will continue through June 2023. Eventually, wastewater sampling could be used to understand the spread of other viruses in the community.

As we continue to navigate the endemic phase of COVID-19, it’s important to stay up-to-date with boosters and vaccines. Vaccination continues to be the best protection against COVID-19. Staying up to date with COVID-19 and flu vaccines is an important step to staying healthy. Additional information is available at the DDPHE Wastewater Testing and the CDPHE Wastewater websites.