American Chemical Society
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Characterizing Spatial Information Loss for Wastewater Surveillance Using crAssphage: Effect of Decay, Temperature, and Population Mobility

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journal contribution
posted on 2023-11-28, 19:20 authored by Corinne Wiesner-Friedman, Nichole E. Brinkman, Emily Wheaton, Maitreyi Nagarkar, Chloe Hart, Scott P. Keely, Eunice Varughese, Jay Garland, Peter Klaver, Carrie Turner, John Barton, Marc Serre, Michael Jahne
Populations contribute information about their health status to wastewater. Characterizing how that information degrades in transit to wastewater sampling locations (e.g., wastewater treatment plants and pumping stations) is critical to interpret wastewater responses. In this work, we statistically estimate the loss of information about fecal contributions to wastewater from spatially distributed populations at the census block group resolution. This was accomplished with a hydrologically and hydraulically influenced spatial statistical approach applied to crAssphage (Carjivirus communis) load measured from the influent of four wastewater treatment plants in Hamilton County, Ohio. We find that we would expect to observe a 90% loss of information about fecal contributions from a given census block group over a travel time of 10.3 h. This work demonstrates that a challenge to interpreting wastewater responses (e.g., during wastewater surveillance) is distinguishing between a distal but large cluster of contributions and a near but small contribution. This work demonstrates new modeling approaches to improve measurement interpretation depending on sewer network and wastewater characteristics (e.g., geospatial layout, temperature variability, population distribution, and mobility). This modeling can be integrated into standard wastewater surveillance methods and help to optimize sewer sampling locations to ensure that different populations (e.g., vulnerable and susceptible) are appropriately represented.