May 25, 2018

Arizona State University, City of Tempe Work Together on Wastewater Monitoring

The city will provide $35,000 to the university fo an anonymized monitoring system

Arizona State University to team with city of Tempe, Ariz., on wastewater monitoring

On Thursday May 24, 2018, The Tempe City Council for the city of Tempe, Ariz., announced that it will grant Arizona State University $35,000 for an anonymized wastewater monitoring system. The funds will be sourced from the Tempe Innovation Fund.

The main function and goal of the new wastewater monitoring system will be to identify the presence of opioids, cocaine, alcohol, marijuana and other substances present in the city’s wastewater. This will allow greater insight into the extent of the drug problem in the city, possibly leading to further action.

The university itself will also match the influx of cash coming from the city, contributing $35,000 of its own money to total the project’s price tag at $70,000. With the funds, the university will analyze various sewage samples and provide real-time results to the city, allowing them to make attempts to improve the situation. The research will be conducted at Arizona State University’s Biodesign Institute and will be led by environmental engineer Rolf Halden.

“Pairing the data from this wastewater program with the opioid map will help us pinpoint where to send the necessary resources to help people overcome addiction,” said Joel Navarro, councilman for the city of Tempe. “This research could help save lives.

The “anonymity” of the monitoring process refers to the inability to trace the presence of any illicit substances to the individual, as the samples being analyzed carry the waste of thousands of people at a time. This is more reliable and concrete than personal surveys or other methods to diagnose the extent of the issue. This process is currently being used in more than 300 cities throughout the world.