COVID-19 Wastewater Surveillance Program


The Wisconsin State Laboratory of Hygiene (WSLH) in partnership with UW-Milwaukee School of Freshwater Sciences, is embarking on an exciting new study funded by the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, to determine whether, and to what extent, the SARS-CoV-2 virus (the virus causing COVID-19) is circulating within communities in Wisconsin. We propose to accomplish this by routinely monitoring the amount of genetic material of SARS-CoV-2 present in wastewater.

Kayley Janssen pipettes sewage samples before beginning the filtration process.

SARS-CoV-2 is shed from humans in several ways, including the fecal matter. Many people infected by the virus have very mild or no symptoms, which makes them less likely to be tested in a clinical setting and identified as possible carriers of COVID-19. Sanitary sewer systems collect and aggregate wastewater to a central location, so that by the time it reaches the wastewater treatment facility (WWTF) it is a well-mixed sample of many households and businesses; thus by sampling the influent at the WWTF a representative snapshot of the whole community served by WWTF can be obtained. This approach will not replace existing public health monitoring systems, but will supplement them.

Wastewater Facility Recruitment Letter

COVID-19 Wastewater Surveillance FAQs

COVID-19 Wastewater Surveillance Glossary

WDHS COVID-19: Wisconsin Coronavirus Wastewater Monitoring Network


For more information, contact:


Phone: 608-263-2444


In the News


Public Health Madison-Dane County – Can Wastewater Data Predict Future COVID Surges?

WKOW-TV – Researchers use sequencing to detect variants of COVID-19 in waste water 

WI Public Radio – Wastewater surveillance a helpful tool in detecting new COVID-19 variants

Spectrum News1 – COVID-19 down the drain: What wastewater can tell us about our pandemic future

WKOW-TV – ‘Everybody has to poop’: How wastewater can help predict COVID-19 trends in Wisconsin 

Channel 3000 – ‘You need to be patient’: COVID-19 wastewater scientist says it’s too soon to tell if Madison is past Omicron peak


Dagmara Antkiewicz (seated) and Kayley Janssen analyze test data.