Regional District of Nanaimo wastewater services hopes the University of Victoria and Pani Energy can monitor wastewater for COVID-19. (News Bulletin file)

Regional District of Nanaimo wastewater services hopes the University of Victoria and Pani Energy can monitor wastewater for COVID-19. (News Bulletin file)

RDN hopes to participate in project to monitor for COVID-19 in wastewater

University of Victoria and Pani Energy project testing samples in capital region first

The Regional District of Nanaimo hopes to piggyback on a project that will scan poop for potential COVID-19.

In July, it was announced that University of Victoria engineering researchers and Pani Energy were developing a sewage monitoring system that examines wastewater samples, with the broad number of pathogens detectable in wastewater offering public health the ability to monitor for future outbreaks.

UVic/Pani Energy were granted money from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada. According to an RDN staff report, the company and university will first conduct a pilot with Capital Regional District samples before deciding on whether to take on samples from the RDN’s Greater Nanaimo and French Creek pollution control centres.

“They won’t be testing for the virus, but they’ll be testing for the genetic material, the RNA (ribonucleic acid) of the virus,” said Sean De Pol, RDN director of water and wastewater services. “They’ll be sampling it from that perspective and that will allow them to quantify what is happening within the community.”

De Pol said the RDN has an agreement with the university to conduct a similar program as with the CRD, allowing them to analyze samples from RDN facilities, however he cautions it’s not a done deal.

“Nothing has been scheduled to date; they will be following up with us mid-November to [tell us] how they’ll run it, so we’re working through logistics … it’s in their court. It’s their program,” said De Pol.

Don Bonner, RDN director and committee chairperson, said it is something that other cities across North America are doing.

“I think ideally, if it works well, it’ll be a way for the city to figure out if there’s any hot spots about to happen, because generally we see the RNA prior to outbreaks actually happening, whether or not we realize that there’s an area where there’s a whole bunch of people who are going to get sick very soon,” said Bonner. “I know they’ve used this on similar types of outbreaks of various diseases around the world on monitoring wastewater.”

De Pol said there would be no expense or cost to the RDN.

The university did not respond to a request for comment.

RELATED: UVic to study COVID outbreaks from poop

RELATED: B.C. begins testing sewage for COVID clues

– files from Aaron Guillen, Goldstream Gazette



reporter@nanaimobulletin.com

Like us on Facebook and follow Karl on Twitter and Instagram

Nanaimo Regional DistrictWastewater treatment

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Const. Joshua Waltman brings knowledge gained from working with people experiencing homelessness in Surrey to his new role as the RCMP’s mental health liaison officer in Nanaimo where he will work with people from across society who find themselves struggling with mental health crisis. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
Nanaimo RCMP’s mental health liaison says his role will take persistence and resilience

Const. Joshua Waltman talks about limiting anxiety and gaining trust of people in mental crises

Janice Perrino, Nanaimo and District Hospital Foundation CEO, holds information brochures for the Light the Trees campaign, part of an effort to raise $5 million for the new intensive care unit at Nanaimo Regional General Hospital. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
Million-dollar donation has Light the Trees campaign off to a bright start in Nanaimo

Windsor Plywood Foundation supports Nanaimo and District Hospital Foundation

Regional District of Nanaimo will be receiving $1.17 million from the B.C. government in COVID-19 safe restart grant money. (News Bulletin file)
Regional District of Nanaimo directors getting started on budgeting decisions

Proposed tax requisitions for 2021 range from 7.3-per cent increase to 2.2-per cent decrease

A sport utility vehicle and a Nanaimo Ladysmith Public Schools work van crashed on Bowen Road near the intersection with Caspers Way this afternoon. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
Drivers taken to hospital after head-on crash on Nanaimo’s Bowen Road

Crash happened near Caspers Way intersection Friday afternoon

Mary Cox and Jack Plant dance in their pyjamas and slippers at the morning pyjama dance during the Rhythm Reelers’ 25 Annual Rally in the Valley Square Dance Festival in Chilliwack on June 4, 2011. Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020 is Square Dancing Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Nov. 29 to Dec. 5

Square Dancing Day, Disability Day and International Ninja Day are all coming up this week

A photo from 2017, of Nuchatlaht First Nation members outside court after filing a land title case in B.C. ( Submitted photo/Nuchatlaht First Nation).
Vancouver Island First Nation calls on B.C. to honour UNDRIP in historic title case

Nuchatlaht First Nation says Crown counsel continues to stall the case using the ‘distasteful’ argument that the Nation ‘abandoned’ their land

West Vancouver Island’s Ehattesaht First Nation continues lock down after 9 active cases were reported today after a visitor tested positive last week. (Ehattesaht First Nation/Facebook)
Ehattesaht First Nation’s COVID-19 nightmare: nine active cases, a storm and a power outage

The Vancouver Island First Nation in a lockdown since the first case was reported last week

Black Press Media and BraveFace have come together to support children facing life-threatening conditions. Net proceeds from these washable, reusable, three-layer masks go to Make-A-Wish Foundation BC & Yukon.
Put on a BraveFace: Help make children’s wishes come true

Black Press Media, BraveFace host mask fundraiser for Make-A-Wish Foundation

Nanaimo MLA Sheila Malcolmson takes her oaths of office virtually on Thursday. (B.C. Government YouTube screen shot)
Nanaimo MLA Sheila Malcolmson named B.C.’s mental health and addictions minister

Malcolmson succeeds Judy Darcy, who did not seek re-election

Police in Nanaimo never know what they’ll encounter when called upon to check on the well-being of people. (News Bulletin file photo)
Nanaimo RCMP find ‘heart-breaking’ circumstances during wellness checks

Police offer sampling of outcomes from well-being checks over recent weeks

114 Canadians were appointed Nov. 27 to the Order of Canada. (Governor General of Canada photo)
Indigenous actor, author, elder, leaders appointed to Order of Canada

Outstanding achievement, community dedication and service recognized

The Ahousaht First Nation confirmed its first case of COVID-19 on Nov. 26, 2020. (Westerly file photo)
Ahousaht First Nation on lockdown over COVID-19

“Emotions are high. The anxiety is high. We want our community to pull through.”

Most Read