The Town of Drumheller has joined over a dozen other municipalities across the province to test for COVID RNA in wastewater over time.
Director of Protective Services Greg Peters announced Drumheller was one of the participating municipalities during the Monday, January 17 Committee of the Whole meeting.
“The Town was approached by the Cumming School of Medicine (at the University of Calgary) to participate,” Town of Drumheller communications officer Erica Crocker tells the Mail. “The program is fully funded by Alberta Health Services (AHS) to advance research at the University of Calgary and University of Alberta.”
Both the University of Alberta and the University of Calgary are conducting research on COVID RNA in wastewater, though their data is not comparable due to different testing protocols for each facility. It is also difficult to compare the different municipalities taking part in the study as, according to the Centre for Health Informatics website, “...communities have different proportions of residential and industrial water use contributing to their municipal wastewater.”
Samples are collected at the main wastewater treatment plant and sent to Calgary twice a week, with results received within a 24-hour period.
Due to the testing requirements needing a 24-hour composite sample, only the central wastewater plant was eligible for this study; no samples from the East Coulee wastewater plant are included in this study, and the town does not currently have the ability to test further up the line at lift stations.
During the Committee of the Whole meeting, Mr. Peters explained between January 6 and January 12 the amount of COVID RNA found in the town’s wastewater samples had risen significantly.
“The testing is helpful for both the municipality and the province to observe an upcoming spike in cases within communities,” Ms. Crocker said.
To view the data for Drumheller or the other municipalities taking part in the study, visit https://covid-tracker.chi-csm.ca/ and view it under the Wastewater tab; municipalities partnering with the University of Calgary are labeled in red while blue denotes municipalities partnering with the University of Alberta.