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Updated 9 months ago
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Municipal Wastewater COVID19 Sampling Data

In November 2020, the City of Cambridge began collecting and analyzing COVID-19 data from municipal wastewater, which can serve as an early indicator of increased COVID-19 infections in the city. The Cambridge Public Health Department and Cambridge Department of Public Works are using technology developed by Biobot, a Cambridge based company, and partnering with the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority (MWRA). This Cambridge wastewater surveillance initiative is funded through a $175,000 appropriation from the Cambridge City Council.

This dataset indicates the presence of the COVID-19 virus (measured as viral RNA particles from the novel coronavirus per ml) in municipal wastewater. The Cambridge site data here were collected as a 24-hour composite sample, which is taken weekly. The MWRA site data ere were collected as a 24-hour composite sample, which is taken daily. MWRA and Cambridge data are listed here in a single table.

An interactive graph of this data is available here:

All areas within the City of Cambridge are captured across four separate catchment areas (or sewersheds) as indicated on the map viewable here: The North and West Cambridge sample also includes nearly all of Belmont and very small areas of Arlington and Somerville (light yellow). The remaining collection sites are entirely -- or almost entirely -- drawn from Cambridge households and workplaces.

Data are corrected for wastewater flow rate, which adjusts for population in general. Data listed are expected to reflect the burden of COVID-19 infections within each of the four sewersheds. A lag of approximately 4-7 days will occur before new transmissions captured in wastewater data would result in a positive PCR test for COVID-19, the most common testing method used. While this wastewater surveillance tool can provide an early indication of major changes in transmission within the community, it remains an emerging technology. In assessing community transmission, wastewater surveillance data should only be considered in conjunction with other clinical measures, such as current infection rates and test positivity.

Each location is selected because it reflects input from a distinct catchment area (or sewershed) as identified on the color-coded map. Viral data collected from small catchment areas like these four Cambridge sites are more variable than data collected from central collection points (e.g., the MWRA facility on Deer Island) where wastewater from dozens of communities are joined and mixed. Data from each catchment area will be impacted by daily activity among individuals living in that area (e.g., working from home vs. traveling to work) and by daytime activities that are not from residences (businesses, schools, etc.) As such, the Regional MWRA data provides a more stable measure of regional viral counts. COVID wastewater data for Boston North and Boston South regions is available at

Querying over HTTP

Splitgraph serves as an HTTP API that lets you run SQL queries directly on this data to power Web applications. For example:

curl \
    -H "Content-Type: application/json" \
{"sql": "
    SELECT *
    FROM \"cambridgema-gov/municipal-wastewater-covid19-sampling-data-ayt4-g2ye\".\"municipal_wastewater_covid19_sampling_data\"
    LIMIT 100 

See the Splitgraph documentation for more information.

  • municipal_wastewater_covid19_sampling_data
Upstream Metadata