RIO DELL, Calif. (KIEM) — The City of Rio Dell has partnered up with Biobot Analytics to test the city’s untreated wastewater, and to look for the genetic signature of Covid-19 to see how present the virus is in the community.
“Just to take advantage of tool, another resource for the county health department and for our information to keep an eye on the health of our city,” Rio Dell Wastewater Superintendent Derek Taylor says about why they conduct this surveillance testing.
Past results have ranged from non-detect to levels below the national average. The latest round of testing showed levels 84% higher than samples collected nationwide over the last 6 weeks and well above the median national average. This is in line with the recent trend in positive cases on the county’s covid-19 dashboard.
“We’ve been testing since October 15th of this year to get kind of an overview of what exactly or how the city is doing. Our last round showed a significant increase in the concern for our local community here,” Taylor says.
Some other cities in the county, like Eureka who gets their water from the Humboldt Bay Municipal Water District, don’t do this kind of testing on their waste water. One reason for that, the cost.
“The City was aware of the opportunity to test our wastewater influence for Covid-19 and discussed the possibility of that with the County earlier in the year. Ultimately elected not to move forward with it largely because of the cost involved,” according to Eureka Public Works Director Brian Gerving.
Rio Dell continues to encourage mask wearing, social distancing, and other steps to help slow the spread of the virus.