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DES MOINES, Iowa — Over the summer the City of Des Moines participated in a study where samples of wastewater were taken to see COVID-19 concentration in the water.

Just last week, the Des Moines Metro Wastewater Reclamation Authority (WRA) recorded the highest virus concentration throughout the span of the study, which can be found here. The purpose of the study is to see what the COVID-19 case count could look like in the area.

The last time that the WRA recorded a peak in virus concentration in wastewater was back in September, which coincided with the peak in COVID-19 cases in the month. An employee of the WRA said that the results from just this last week were unexpected.

“It was kind of surprising. We are hoping that like all data sets that is could just be an anomaly,” said Larry Hare, the WRF Treatment Manager at the Des Moines Metro Wastewater Reclamation Authority. “We will find out in the next week to come. We will have more data to tie with it and see if it is trending up as sharply.”

The reason why the results came as a shock is because the virus concentration in the wastewater has been going down since September. But the rise in concentration may hint at another case increase in the near future.

“This is part of our mission statement at the Wastewater Reclamation Authority to protect the public health,” said Hare. “That is why were are doing this. We are protecting the public health, we are letting them know what is going on, what is in their wastewater.”

More test results are coming from a sample later this week. The WRA posts bi-weekly results and they can be found here.