Southern Water’s role in Joint Biosecurity Centre’s wastewater covid testing programme

Southern Water

Southern Water has been playing a role in Joint Biosecurity Centre’s covid testing regime of wastewater.

Starting at four sites last July, samplers have now attended 27 wastewater treatment works across Hampshire, the Isle of Wight, Kent and Sussex.

These were selected by the Joint Biodiversity Centre, which is part of NHS Track and Trace, to collect 24 hour composite samples from autosamplers situated onsite. The autosampler collects a sample every 15 minutes over a 24 hour period (a total of 96 aliquots) from the crude wastewater sampling point into a central container.

Each sample requires two sites visits, the first visit is to set up and programme the autosampler. The sampler returns the following day to remove the sample from the autosampler. The composite sample is then stirred and transferred into two uniquely labelled bottles and refrigerated.

Samples are transported in a refrigerated vehicle to one of five designated fridges at selected Southern Water sites for collection later the same day by a courier who transports them to the receiving laboratory.

The Joint Biosecurity Centre (JBC) provides evidence-based analysis to inform local and national decision-making in response to COVID-19 outbreaks. helping to inform action on testing, contact tracing and local outbreak management in England.

Wastewater monitoring

Since early 2020, the UK has been carrying out wastewater monitoring for COVID-19. Wastewater samples are collected regularly across the country and analysed for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. Wastewater monitoring is part of monitoring systems to detect new COVID-19 outbreaks and support test and trace approaches.

Wastewater offers a collective sample from an entire community that is easier to access than samples from individuals. In the past, wastewater monitoring has been used to uncover which drugs people consume in different cities and has helped to trace illegal drug manufacturers. During the global polio eradication programme, countries monitored wastewater for the presence of poliovirus itself and also strains of the virus derived from live vaccines.

Kent sites within the Southern Water region supporting the sampling:

Medway Towns
Herne Bay/Whitstable
Ashford (Ashford)
Royal Tunbridge Wells
New Romney

1 Comment

Comments are closed.