Samples From Amherstburg's Wastewater Treatment Plant Show 'No Evidence' Of COVID-19

Samples taken from Amherstburg’s Wastewater Treatment Plant that were analyzed by a University of Windsor research team show “no evidence of the genetic signal of the COVID-19 virus.”

The Town participated in a study, along with Lakeshore, led by Mike McKay, executive director of the Great Lakes Institute for Environmental Research.

The study was funded by a $50,000 research grant from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council. It sought to analyze wastewater in both municipalities for signs of the virus and also explore how long the virus could survive should it be discharged into Lake St. Clair or the Detroit River.

“We know that the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19 can be found in the feces of infected people, so the amount of virus coming into the treatment plants could be an indicator of the true infection rate in the community,” said McKay in a University of Windsor release announcing the study, which continues through August.

The sign outside Amherstburg's Wastewater Treatment Plant

Samples were taken from Amherstburg’s Wastewater Treatment plant every day from June 22 to July 20. They were analyzed and yielded no trace of the genetic marker of the virus. The plant treats about 60 per cent of the Town's wastewater.

While this is encouraging news, it does not mean the virus is no longer a threat. It is imperative everyone continues to abide by physical distancing protocols and the guidance of public health officials.

“The Town of Amherstburg is grateful to be part of this remarkable research for the early detection of the coronavirus which will assist the Windsor Essex County Health Unit in the battle to prevent the spread,” said Amherstburg Mayor Aldo DiCarlo in a release. “We are also pleased to hear the COVID-19 virus was not detected in our wastewater system.”

The Windsor and Essex County Health Unit is supportive of this project, "which follows a framework that has been used globally and has produced promising results for the early detection of potential community infections," said a release from the Town. 

An image of Donald McArthur urging people to sign up for his newsletter.