Author ORCID Identifier



Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources


Civil and Environmental Engineering

Committee Chair

Emily Garner

Committee Member

Lian-Shin Lin

Committee Member

Timothy Driscoll


COVID-19 has spurred growth in the science surrounding wastewater-based epidemiology (WBE) pertaining to the detection of severe acute respiratory virus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) in waste streams as an early warning signal for public health. However, the highly variable wastewater environment has made it difficult to standardize an approach for sampling and analysis, especially in locations using combined sewer infrastructure. This study addresses knowledge gaps of WBE via three specific aims: (1) to compare diurnal fluctuations of SARS-CoV-2 and the human fecal indicator, pepper mild mottle virus (PMMoV) in wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) influent samples collected during dry versus wet weather conditions; (2) to assess accuracy of grab versus 24-hour composite samples collected under variable flow conditions; and (3) to examine changes in wastewater influent composition associated with rainfall derived inflow and infiltration (RDII) and impacts to SARS-CoV-2 and PMMoV abundance. Using droplet digital polymerase chain reaction (ddPCR), both SARS-CoV-2 and PMMoV were quantified hourly at two WWTPs in West Virginia during three wet and three dry weather events. A parallel configuration of two automated samplers was deployed at each WWTP to collect: (a) 24 grab samples, collected hourly, and (b) an equivalent 24-hour composite. Wastewater physiochemistry metadata (chemical oxygen demand, ammonia, conductivity, total suspended solids, turbidity, pH, temperature, and influent flow) was also collected. Results provided evidence of the influence of site-specific factors on viral abundance, including the potential role of septage haulers in skewed viral RNA abundance and RDII as a driver of overall viral concentrations. Significantly lower concentrations of SARS-CoV-2 were observed during wet weather days at both WWTPs (Mann Whitney U, p

Embargo Reason

Publication Pending

Available for download on Thursday, April 25, 2024