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Las Vegas area water districts test for COVID-19 in sewage, drinking water

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Posted at 10:34 AM, Apr 20, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-20 16:52:42-04

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — You don’t have to worry about getting COVID-19 through tap water. That’s because Southern Nevada Water Authority is working with waste water agencies throughout the community to actively test for the virus.

It’s called waste water epidemiology. It's an emerging science that is being pioneered in the Netherlands, according to the Southern Nevada Water Authority.

The research allows water agencies like the Las Vegas Valley Water District to test for the RNA of COVID-19 in our sewage and the water we rely on every day.

“The technology that we have and the process that we have in place allows us to determine whether or not the signature of that virus, the RNA, or the fingerprint of the virus,” said Bronson Mack, spokesman for the Southern Nevada Water Authority.


Mack says the RNA of COVID-19 is in our sewage, but even then, the virus isn’t active.

What’s most important is that COVID-19 is not found in our drinking water or in invaluable water resources like Lake Mead.

“We are sampling within the Las Vegas Wash and monitoring water quality in the wash 24/7," said Mack.

"We’re also sampling out at Lake Mead," he added. "In those instances, we have found no indication of coronavirus."

Mack says this is a good indicator that the waste water treatment facilities in Southern Nevada are doing a good job.


Waste water epidemiology could be a tool for preventing virus outbreaks in the future by early detection.

“What we have seen is that this virus signature can be detected in advance of hot spot outbreaks, or other types of outbreaks, so that it can serve as an early warning indicator for our healthcare systems,” Mack said.