The Indian Institute of Technology Madras (IIT-M) is establishing a new research centre that will test wastewater in a city for indicator organisms and chemicals and make the data available to the public. The facility will act as an intelligence unit to track and prevent a virus outbreak in its early stages. The International Centre for Clean Water (ICCW) is establishing this Wastewater-Based Epidemiology (WBE) research facility.
This project is being supported with funding of USD one million by CryptoRelief, an initiative started by Sandeep Nailwal, a release from IIT-M said. The data obtained from various wastewater sources and treatment facilities will be analyzed and made available to the public through dashboards. Gradually, this facility will be extended to other parts of India. The benefits of wastewater analysis include water fingerprinting to study the chemical and biological molecules in it. The WBE project includes aspects such as tracking pollutants, pesticides, licit and illicit drugs to which the population is exposed, the release said.
Prof T Pradeep, a Padma Shri Awardee and Professor-in-Charge, International Centre for Clean Water (ICCW), IIT Madras, said, ensuring clean water for people needs a detailed understanding of wastewater. The ICCW team will work on building a hydro-informatics platform for the city with appropriate modelling tools to give spatiotemporal information of the data derived from WBE studies, he said. The WBE will also be employed to detect the emerging issues of concern, such as increasing antimicrobial resistance due to excessiveconsumption of antibiotics. Identifying the right policies to control pharmaceuticals and personal care products will be of great value in improving public health.