Weekly Wastewater Sampling for the Presence of SARS-CoV-2

Wastewater data is used to track trends in the overall prevalence of COVID-19 on four of the University of Maine System campuses and in two surrounding communities

Wastewater testing is a valuable part of the University of Maine System’s multilayered test-trace-isolate strategy for monitoring COVID-19. We use wastewater testing to track trends in the overall prevalence of COVID-19 on four of our campuses and in two surrounding communities. Wastewater monitoring works because infected people may start shedding virus in their stool a few days before they show any symptoms of disease, or even if they never show symptoms. While wastewater testing cannot identify infected individuals, it provides data that we can measure against current known cases on campuses and allows us to identify emerging infection trends. We are testing wastewater at two central collection points on four UMS campuses and at municipal treatment facilities in the cities Orono and Farmington. As we refine our methods, we plan to deploy more targeted wastewater testing that could help identify cases in a specific building or buildings, for example, and help focus amplified individual asymptomatic testing.

Wastewater Data Explained

The below can be a helpful reference when reading the data provided by the University of Maine System’s campuses and local municipalities.

  • The limit of detection used to measure SARS-CoV2 in wastewater is ≈ 5,000 virus equivalents per liter (vE/L). Readings above this level are listed as positive with vE/L in parentheses.
    • Readings below this level are listed as indeterminate (they indicate the presence of the virus but do not allow reliable calculation of virus concentrations).
  • A negative result indicates that no virus was found in the wastewater.
  • Samples are generally collected at campus sites over a 24-hour period Monday into Tuesday and Thursday into Friday.
  • “No sample” indicates that no sample was collected at a given location on the date listed. (Weather, wastewater flow rate and other circumstances can hinder sample collection).

University of Maine System Campus Results:

Updated campus wastewater data can be found below.

UMaine 1 represents a sample covering buildings on the north end of the University of Maine campus in Orono, Maine.

UMaine 2 represents a sample covering buildings on the south end of the University of Maine campus in Orono, Maine.

Sample Date (Range) UMaine 1 UMaine 2
2/19/21 Positive (15,524 vE/L) Indeterminate
2/17/21 Positive (76,693 vE/L) Positive (18,824 vE/L)
2/16/21 No Sample No Sample
2/12/21 Positive (98,651 vE/L) Positive (21,752 vE/L)
2/9/21 Positive (38,861 vE/L) Positive (38,886 vE/L)
2/8/21 Positive (53,851 vE/L) Positive (322,738 vE/L)
2/5/21 Positive (188,164 vE/L) Positive (219,237 vE/L)
2/2/21 Positive (10,141 vE/L) Indeterminate
1/29/21 Positive (64,367 v E/L) Positive (10,091 v E/L)
1/27/21 Positive (59,755 v E/L) No Sample
1/22/21 Positive (13,232 vE/L) Positive (94,353 vE/L)
1/20/21 Positive (6,326 vE/L) Indeterminate

This data represents dorms on the University of Southern Maine Gorham campus.

USM – Gorham 1 represents the following dorms on the University of Southern Maine Gorham campus: Anderson Hall, Philippi Hall, Robie Andrews Hall, Upton Hastings Hall, and Woodward Hall.

USM – Gorham 2 represents the following dorms on the University of Southern Maine Gorham campus: Upperclass Hall

Sample Date (Range) USM – Gorham 1 USM – Gorham 2
2/19/21 Negative Indeterminate
2/17/21 No Sample No Sample
2/16/21 Negative Indeterminate
2/12/21 Indeterminate Indeterminate
2/9/21 Negative Negative
2/8/21 No Sample No Sample
2/5/21 Negative Positive (10,730 vE/L)
2/2/21 Indeterminate Indeterminate
1/29/21 No Sample No Sample
1/27/21 No Sample No Sample
1/22/21 No Sample No Sample
1/20/21 No Sample No Sample

UMFK represents dorms and administrative buildings on the University of Maine at Fort Kent campus.

Sample Date (Range) UMFK
2/19/21 Indeterminate
2/17/21 Indeterminate
2/16/21 No Sample
2/12/21 Indeterminate
2/9/21 Positive (349,062 vE/L)
2/9/21 No Sample
2/5/21 No Sample
2/2/21 Negative
1/29/21 Indeterminate
1/27/21 Indeterminate
1/22/21 No Sample
1/20/21 No Sample

UMPI represents dorms and administrative buildings on the University of Maine at Presque Isle campus.

Sample Date (Range) UMPI
2/19/21 Negative
2/17/21 Negative
2/16/21 No Sample
2/12/21 Indeterminate
2/9/21 Negative
2/8/21 No Sample
2/5/21 Negative
2/2/21 Negative
1/29/21 Negative
1/27/21 Negative
1/22/21 No Sample
1/20/21 No Sample

Municipal Results

Updated municipal wastewater data can be found below.

Orono data represents wastewater collected at the Orono Water Pollution Control Facility, which receives contributions from the University of Maine campus and also the off-campus housing complexes where University of Maine students live, as well as the rest of the town.

Sample Date (Range) Orono
2/18/21 Indeterminate
2/16/21 Positive (21,686 vE/L)
2/11/21 Positive (11,084 vE/L)
2/10/21 Positive (15,029 vE/L)
2/9/21 Positive (7,061 vE/L)
2/5/21 Positive (24,386 vE/L)
2/2/21  Positive (24,872 v E/L)
1/29/21 Positive (8,218 v E/L)
1/27/21 Positive (29,648 v E/L)
1/22/21 Positive (13,480 vE/L)
1/19/21 Positive (4,871 vE/L)

Farmington data represents wastewater collected at the Farmington Wastewater Treatment Facility, which receives contributions from the University of Maine at Farmington, as well as the rest of the town.

Sample Date (Range) Farmington
2/18/21 Indeterminate
2/17/21 Indeterminate
2/11/21 Indeterminate
2/10/21 Indeterminate
2/9/21 No Sample
2/4/21 Positive (7,726 vE/L)
2/3/21 Indeterminate
1/28/21 Positive (35,020 v E/L)
1/27/21 Positive (63,690 v E/L)
1/21/21 Positive (23,034 vE/L)
1/20/21 Positive (15,138 vE/ L)