Remote Wastewater Sampling Program for SARS-CoV-2 Testing


Erie County Div. of Sewerage Management


Buffalo, New York

Services Provided:

Composite sampling
SPDES sampling
Groundwater sampling
Wastewater sampling

24-hr Wastewater Composite Sampling at Manholes

CORE Environmental Consultants, Inc. was under contract with the Erie County Department of Health Services to provide targeted wastewater sampling for SARS-CoV-2 at six (6) sanitary manhole locations in Erie County. Erie County’s existing COVID-19 Wastewater Project provides a daily estimate of positive infection cases within large sewersheds by conducting sampling at wastewater treatment plant influents. The purpose of this remote wastewater sampling program is to analyze for the presence of the SARS-CoV-2 virus within targeted areas of the larger sewersheds.

CORE completed an initial assessment to determine the manhole locations per sewershed for installation of the sampling equipment. CORE reviewed a range of composite samplers for use in this project. The sampler had to be installed inside a remote manhole and capable of collecting a 24-hour composite wastewater sample. CORE procured Hach compact portable samplers for use on the project and installed the composite samplers in the manholes with stainless steel suspension brackets.

Prior to the first sampling event, CORE completed pilot testing at each manhole location to ensure each manhole selected is suitable for sampler installation and collection. A 24-hour sampling event was conducted to ensure all equipment is operational and sample collection runs as anticipated.

For sample preparation and collection, two (2) experienced field technicians are deployed Tuesday through Friday to all six (6) locations. The 24-hour composite samples are held at as close to 4°C as possible for preservation, therefore the sampler housing must be filled with ice prior to initial sample collection. At sample collection and during transport, all samples are stored in an insulated unit packed with ice to maintain a consistent 4°C environment. Prior to delivery, all chain-of-custodies are reviewed for accuracy, and all samples will be checked for proper labeling. The schedule ensures samples are delivered to the University at Buffalo laboratory by approximately 1:00 PM on Wednesdays and Fridays.

CORE provides all routine maintenance as required to keep the samplers operational. The case and tubing are cleaned between sampling events as necessary. Battery packs are removed on Fridays and charged prior to the Tuesday sampling events. Prior to sampling events tubing is cleared or replaced as necessary and pumps confirmed operational.