28 April 2020

Goulburn Valley Water is part of a national project monitoring coronavirus (COVID-19) in wastewater as part of wider research to understand how the virus spreads.

The ColoSSoS Project (Collaboration on Sewage Surveillance of SARS COV2) is an initiative of Water Research Australia, with research being carried out by a number of water authorities across Australia

The project involves experts in health, microbiology, laboratory testing, wastewater-based epidemiology and policy communication through collaboration with water utilities, health departments and researchers.

It will track and monitor the virus that causes the disease, and help trace its persistence in the Australian sewerage network and identify locations and clusters where the virus is present.

Goulburn Valley Water General Manager – Service Delivery Daniel Flanagan said it was a nationally important piece of research to be involved in, particularly for tracking the virus in regional Victoria.

“This research will help us understand how the virus is spreading within Shepparton through a community-wide approach, and also to monitor for any re-emergence of the virus in the future,” he said.

“It will also provide evidence to help health authorities understand the effects of measures to slow the spread of coronavirus, particularly in monitoring any potential easing of restrictions.

“While it’s still in early stages, the project could also help to ensure we’re more prepared to face future epidemic outbreaks and to understand disease prevalence in communities.”

The monitoring project will also help to supplement results from individual testing.

Samples will be taken weekly from the inflow point at the Shepparton Wastewater Management Facility on Daldy Rd, with samples then transported to the ALS laboratory in Melbourne and analysed alongside samples from across the state.

While virus transmission in wastewater does not pose an additional risk, GVW staff are taking additional precautionary measures as part of the organisation’s coronavirus response, including wearing PPE, regularly cleansing and sanitising and physical distancing.