New IWA Cluster on Wastewater-based Epidemiological Surveillance

Darwin, Australia

The International Water Association (IWA) is delighted to announce the launch of the Wastewater-based Epidemiological (WBE) Surveillance Cluster within its global network.

Building upon the interest in this rapidly developing area that was evident during the IWA World Water Congress & Exhibition in Copenhagen last September, the IWA Specialist Group on Health-related Water Microbiology has taken the initiative to establish the WBE Surveillance Cluster. The new cluster was formally presented during the 21st International Symposium on Health-Related Water Microbiology in Darwin, Australia, on 4-9 June 2023. Recognising the interdisciplinary nature of this subject, the cluster aims to bring together experts from various disciplines, especially by connecting across other relevant IWA Specialist Groups.

Wastewater-based epidemiological surveillance has gained significant attention during the COVID-19 pandemic. While wastewater surveillance for chemical substances and pathogenic microbes is not a new concept, the understanding that domestic and urban wastewater provides valuable information about the public health status and trends of communities has grown in the past five years. As the world returns to a pre-pandemic rhythm, it is crucial to continue the dialogue on wastewater-based epidemiology and advance the science behind this approach in a multidisciplinary way.

The cluster members will collaborate to establish a functional global network of institutions and individuals, facilitating the rapid exchange of crucial information on wastewater-based epidemiological surveillance. Moreover, the cluster aims to foster an ongoing dialogue among policy makers, managers, and practitioners. The Specialist Group on Health-related Water Microbiology will serve as the overall coordinator of the cluster, while membership is open to all water professionals who are enthusiastic, dedicated, and passionate about water and health-related issues.

Development in this field necessitates a strong interface between science, policy, and practice to maximise its benefits. This is illustrated by the recent Proposal for a Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council regarding urban wastewater treatment, which highlights the requirement for Member States to establish a coordination structure by 2025 between public health authorities and urban wastewater treatment entities to determine monitored parameters, frequency, and methods.

For more information, please visit the Group on IWA Connect Plus