Virus detection in local water helping research

Virus detection in local water helping research
Mount Pleasant Waterworks Operations Manager Allan Clum says the study is looking at samples of Mount Pleasant wastewater plants twice a week. (Source: Live 5)

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - Mount Pleasant Waterworks is one of eight wastewater treatment utilities in South Carolina that’s tracking the COVID-19 virus in its water samples.

The virus was first detected in Mount Pleasant Waterworks raw sewage last summer and the town says they have an update on the study in which that they’ve been a participant.

It’s important to note that the virus was detected in Mount Pleasant wastewater, and not their drinking water. This wastewater is water that’s collected after going down the drain, sink, or toilet at your home or business. It’s then completely treated before discharged into the Charleston Harbor.

Mount Pleasant Waterworks Operations Manager Allan Clum says the study is looking at samples of Mount Pleasant wastewater plants twice a week. These samples are then sent to Columbia to be studied by DHEC and the Arnold School of Public Health at USC.

Clum says what they’ve found is the biggest spikes of COVID-19 in the local water have been last July and this past January.

Since February however, he says they’ve seen a sharp decline. Clum says that’s a good indication that the public is getting healthier.

This is the first time Mount Pleasant Waterworks has participated in a pandemic or virus study like this one, Clum says.

“The hope is that we can create predictive tools that, in the future.” Clum said. “If there’s another outbreak, or another such viral type of issue we’re dealing with, that we’ll have the tools in place to be able to predict this ahead of time.”

Funding for this study from the CDC was originally supposed to end in December, but Clum says it’s been extended indefinitely. He says he hopes this will allow them to create a model they can use going forward in understanding public health.

Mount Pleasant Waterworks is one of eight wastewater treatment facilities in South Carolina that is tracking the COVID-19 virus in its water samples. The full list is included below:

  • City of Columbia / Columbia Metro
  • Mount Pleasant Waterworks
  • City of Cayce
  • City of Camden
  • East Richland Public Service District
  • Richland County / Eastover Facility
  • Charleston Water System

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