Environmental monitoring of wastewater is an important tool in understanding the total impact of communicable diseases in our community. Mono County Public Health Department (MCPH) is very fortunate to have partnered with Mammoth Community Water District (MCWD) to perform regular wastewater monitoring of the area served by MCWD. While wastewater monitoring for disease presence is not a new method (it has been used for nearly 70 years) it is newer to Mono County. Among many other things, wastewater monitoring is unbiased, non-invasive, inclusive, and inexpensive.
MCPH staff gather samples from the wastewater treatment facility and the samples are then analyzed in a lab to determine the concentration of virus present. While wastewater cannot detect the number of people who are currently infected with a specific virus, it is an indicator of changes in community-level infection. This means that wastewater testing can be used to detect general trends: whether the detectable amount of virus in the sampling zone is going up, going down, or staying level. In turn, this information can be used to make risk assessments and to guide both local practitioners and the general public.