Chesapeake Water Environment Association - Event Information
Collection Systems Webinar: COVID Tracing via Collection System Sampling
Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) has caused over 28 million cases of COVID-19 and over 500,000 deaths in the United States. In addition, communities are losing $100 to $200 million in economic activity per day due to mandated and recommended social distancing measures. As an industry, the wastewater utility profession has prided itself on being an essential service. The ability to extend this service through sewer surveillance is exciting and considered imperative to help their community though this pandemic.
When the coronavirus attacks a person’s body, it leaves a trail of castoff genetic evidence that the person excretes. Sewer surveillance can provide communities with valuable trending data to better understand the level of infection. Testing can be completed at the community, neighborhood, or even building level to develop trending data to better inform public health officials and local governments. What kind of decisions can be made? On a large-scale basis, trending data can help support social distancing and mask mandates, can guide reopening recommendations, and help make decisions such as returning to school. Recent testing has indicated that this approach has the potential to identify potential outbreaks up to 11 days before they occur.
This presentation will discuss the necessary tasks for a successful sewer surveillance program, including shareholder engagement, building a testing plan, identifying testing sites, establishing testing frequency standards, and how to provide tracking and trending data to decision-makers and the public. Following this presentation, attendees will be armed with the knowledge of knowing which questions to ask and how to lay the groundwork for an effective monitoring program.
Dr. Adam Gushgari, PE | Co-Founder & Managing Member of AquaVitas LLC
Dr. Adam Gushgari, P.E., is a co-founder and Managing Member of AquaVitas LLC. He has experience in WBE tracking of narcotics, viruses and other agents of concern in municipal wastewater, and also has seven years’ expertise in land development focusing on design of municipal and private wastewater and drinking water infrastructure. Adam was instrumental in the development of the City of Tempe’s WBE opioid program which was later serve as the base for the City’s WBE SARS-CoV-2 public health dashboard. Since establishing AquaVitas he has secured contracts for establishing WBE monitoring campaigns across the US with federal, state, and local government, engineering consulting firms, and large corporations. Most recently, he led Phase 1 of the HHS COVID-19 Wastewater Monitoring project providing wastewater data for 10% of the U.S. population.
AquaVitas, LLC, Scottsdale, AZ, is a small business formed in 2019 to provide technical and engineering services in wastewater-based epidemiology (WBE). The company’s three principals (Drs. Halden, Gushgari, and Driver) jointly established the systematic use of WBE in the U.S. and pioneered: (i) HHS Wastewater surveillance project for the United States tracking prevalence of COVID-19 (ii) the U.S. National Sewage Sludge Repository, (iii) the Human Health Observatory – the largest collection of wastewater process samples in the U.S. and worldwide, (iv) the concept of using wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) as Public Health Observatories, (v) the nation’s first WBE-informed infectious disease early-warning system, originally developed for seasonal influenza and then expanded to study SARS-CoV-2 (4), (vi) the world’s first public WBE dashboard launched in 2018 to fight the U.S. opioid epidemic (5), (vii) the world’s first public WBE dashboard launched in May 2020 to track COVID-19 infections, as well as the successful use of WBE in the US, (viii) inform and revise public health regulations (2017 ban of 19 antimicrobials by the US FDA), (ix) to discover a previously unknown clusters of SARS-CoV-2 infections in an urban populations, (x) to inform public health interventions that successfully reduced infections in these affected communities, and (xi) to demonstrate how WBE information can be integrated into day-to-day public health decision-making to manage both the US opioid epidemic and the US COVID-19 epidemic by example of the city of Tempe, AZ. Collectively, the principals have over 200 relevant peer-reviewed WBE publications and (see 9) issued/pending U.S. Patents, and AquaVitas has licensed relevant WBE-related intellectual property from Arizona State University (ASU).
Zachary Matyja, PE | Regional Client Manager | RJN Group, Inc.
From heavy rainstorms causing sewer overflows and basement backups to starting a utility inspection program, Zach works with communities every day helping address these issues and problems, proactively, cost-effectively, and logically.
Zach is a Regional Client Manager for RJN Group. Throughout the course his 18-year career, he has served as an engineer, project manager, and client manager for a number of water, wastewater, and collection system projects throughout the Midwest.
His current role at RJN allows him to meet with customers and fellow industry professionals to help share knowledge on “best practices” in the collection system industry with an interest in sewer flow monitoring and Sewer System Evaluation Studies. Because of his interests in these programs, he understands the challenges of deciphering the volumes of data that sewer studies can produce, and loves working with clients to find clarity in their data.
Zach is active in local WEF and APWA chapters and is a past Collection System Award and Golden Manhole recipient from the Central States WEA.