Skip to content
 > Home > Government > Media

Media Releases

COVID-19 Detected in May 12 Raw Sewage Samples from two Wastewater Treatment Plants

Lake County, CA (June 3, 2020) — As has been previously reported, Special Districts has been working with an agency called Biobot to test raw sewage for the presence of SARS Cov2 (The virus that causes COVID-19).  The virus is shed in the stools of infected people, and its presence in raw sewage indicates there are active cases in the County.

This testing is conducted weekly, but results have been significantly delayed, as Biobot has become overwhelmed with agencies and municipalities joining their project.

Results were received today for samples taken May 12, 2020.  Results for May 19 and May 26 samples remain pending.

COVID-19 was detected in the May 12, 2020 samples from SE Regional Wastewater Plant (Clearlake and Lower Lake area) and NW Regional Plant (Upper Lake, Nice, Lucerne and North Lakeport areas). COVID-19 was not detected at Kelseyville or Middletown plants.

Receiving results two to three weeks after samples are taken has significantly diminished the value of this information. As a consequence, Special Districts has secured a new lab that can conduct the tests and assure more timely delivery of the results. We submitted tests to the new lab last week, and hope to get results this week.  As results are received, we will post the findings.

Special Districts wants to remind everyone, when SARS Cov2 (COVID-19) is detected in raw sewage, it is diluted with chlorine, detergents and disinfectants that kill the virus.  Chlorine is in many public water systems, and household and commercial laundry, cleaning and disinfection products also end up in the sewer. Raw sewage is toxic at all times, but the presence of this virus does not make it any more dangerous than it has always been.

Additionally, we want to assure the public the presence of COVID-19 in raw sewage in no way affects the safety of drinking water.  These systems are entirely separate, and water provided by Special Districts is safe to drink.

Water Faucet
Urgent Health Advisory

Effective immediately, people on private water systems whose tap water comes from their own private intake into the lake, in the Oaks Arm and Lower Arm of Clear Lake should not drink the water.

More info