COVID-19 and Wastewater: Implications at Hope and Beyond

Among all the firsts that 2020 brought, here’s something no one saw coming: Hope College staffers parked in campus intersections, opening maintenance holes to get to the sewage below. Six mornings a week, rain or shine. It is part of Hope’s multi-pronged approach to keeping the campus safe during the pandemic, and came together thanks to a constellation of resources that’s unusual for a school like Hope.

You can read more in the recent News from Hope College article, “Water-Quality Expertise Helped the Semester Happen,” or you can join the experts directly during a new online event coming up on February 16 at 7:00 pm EST.

Faculty and staff involved in the process will share more about Hope College’s model, including wastewater surveillance, comprehensive testing, contact tracing and quarantine procedures. They will also share lessons learned for the benefit of those responsible for keeping their own communities safe. Alumni, families and all those interested are invited to join and learn.

Dr. Aaron Best, genetics professor and chair of the biology department at Hope College discusses the college’s COVID-19 testing strategy that enables detection of SARSCoV-2 genetic material (RNA) in campus wastewater.

Developed and led by a team of Hope biologists and chemists, the college’s strategy focuses on wastewater coming from residence halls, cottages and apartments, which are divided into nine residential zones across campus. During the 2020 fall semester, Hope College was awarded approximately $700,000 for equipment and funding from Michigan’s Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE) as part of the state’s effort to establish a standardized and coordinated network of monitoring systems to provide an early-warning system for the presence of the virus. Read more in The Wall Street Journal.


Dr. Aaron Best

Harrison C. and Mary L. Visscher Professor of Genetics, Biology Department Chair

Dr. Benjamin Kopek

Associate Professor of Biology

Scott Travis

Hope College COVID-19 Testing Team Lead

Join the Conversation


  1. The wastewater facility is a major problem for Hope. Its current management is unable to address the problem, and Hope’s environment is being damaged.

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