Wastewater Epidemiology & Surveillance Program

Wastewater, also referred to as sewage, includes water from household or building use (such as toilets, showers, or sinks) that contain human respiratory secretions or fecal waste, as well as water from non-household sources (such as rain or industrial use). Pathogens (organisms that cause disease, such as bacteria, viruses, or fungi) can be detected in a community by testing wastewater, even if community members don’t have symptoms. DSHS partners with local health departments and water utilities to track pathogens in wastewater and help communities prepare for and take action to address increasing cases of infectious diseases.

Wastewater monitoring data can help local public health agencies identify outbreak trends early, direct prevention efforts to where they are most needed, and provide additional insight into disease spread that complements other public health surveillance data (such as clinical testing or hospital visits). Health departments, community leaders, and individuals can use wastewater monitoring data to make decisions about how best to protect their community.


Links to Resources

CDC National Wastewater Surveillance System (NWSS)

Houston Wastewater Epidemiology

Frequently Asked Questions