ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10)- There are three local wastewater treatment plants participating in the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) program to monitor wastewater for COVID-19. They do this by looking for COVID DNA markers in sewage water.

This works because the virus can be shed in fecal matter and can then be detected through testing. Samples are taken as the water goes into the wastewater plant and analyzed, according to Nexstar Media Wire.

“People infected with SARS-CoV-2 can shed the virus in their feces, even if they don’t have symptoms. The virus can then be detected in wastewater, enabling wastewater surveillance to capture presence of SARS-CoV-2 shed by people with and without symptoms,” the CDC said.

The CDC also has an interactive map showing data for all the testing sites that participate. Statewide 46 treatment plants are listed as participating in the program. However, only seven have up-to-date data from March 11-25. Of the three treatment plants in the Capital Region that serve Fulton, Rensselaer, and Saratoga/Schenectady Counties, only Saratoga/Schenectady has current data.

Using a color-coded system, the CDC’s map shows treatment plants where the prevalence of COVID has decreased in wastewater as blue. Plants that have shown an increase are labeled from light orange to red. The latest information from the Saratoga/Schenectady plant shows the prevalence of COVID at the highest level, red. However, reported positive cases in the state remain low.

The CDC said wastewater testing can be helpful in the fight against COVID by:

  • Allowing them to measure the presence of COVID in people who shed the virus whether they have symptoms or not. This helps determine if cases are rising or decreasing.
  • Wastewater testing can be an early indication of rising COVID cases.
  • 80% of U.S. households are served by municipal wastewater collection systems, therefore testing can be monitored in many communities.

NEWS10 contacted Saratoga and Fulton Counties for comment but did not hear back by the time of publication.