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For Immediate Release
May 22, 2024
Elizabeth Goodsitt, 608-266-1683
Jennifer Miller, 608-266-1683

DHS Recognizes Wisconsin Wastewater Professionals

Wastewater professionals honored for their contributions to public health

Today, the Department of Health Services (DHS) joined partners from the Madison Metropolitan Sewerage District and the Wisconsin State Laboratory of Hygiene to honor Wisconsin wastewater professionals. The event coincides with Governor Evers proclaiming May 22, 2024, as Wastewater Professionals Appreciation Day to recognize these professionals for protecting and promoting the health, safety, and overall well-being of all Wisconsinites.

"Since 2020, wastewater professionals across Wisconsin have been partnering with public health to provide valuable information that allows us to track and respond to public health threats and diseases in our communities in a timely manner, and we would not be able to achieve this without the dedication of wastewater professionals in Wisconsin," said DHS Bureau of Communicable Diseases Director Traci DeSalvo. "We are deeply appreciative of wastewater professionals and facilities across the state and the work they do to benefit Wisconsin public health."

Sampling and testing wastewater became a critical surveillance tool throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and is now one of the best tools we have for monitoring COVID-19 activity in Wisconsin. Wastewater sampling can detect virus before people experience symptoms, or if they are infected but asymptomatic. DHS shares this information in an interactive data dashboard, allowing public health officials to act quickly to prevent further spread of disease. In addition to tracking COVID-19, wastewater testing has expanded to provide invaluable information tracking flu, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), and norovirus spread in communities. More than half of Wisconsin residents are represented in participating sewersheds.

"Wastewater monitoring has been shown to be an accurate, reliable, and cost-effective program," said DeSalvo. "Wastewater professionals have helped unlock this vital public health tool to protect and promote the health of Wisconsinites."

The Wisconsin Wastewater Surveillance Program is a partnership between DHS, the Wisconsin State Laboratory of Hygiene at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee School of Freshwater Sciences. Last year, Wisconsin was named a CDC National Wastewater Surveillance System (NWSS) Center of Excellence, joining just three other national centers across the country.

In addition to the DHS website, visit the University of Wisconsin-Madison website to read more about Wisconsin's Center of Excellence status.


Last revised May 22, 2024