Romney, Colleagues Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Strengthen Wastewater Testing Systems for Public Health Emergency Preparedness

WASHINGTON—U.S. Senators Mitt Romney (R-UT), Cory Booker (D-NJ), and Angus King (I-ME) today introduced the bipartisan Public Health Response and Emergency Detection Through Integrated Wastewater Surveillance (PREDICT) Act. This legislation would strengthen and expand the National Wastewater Surveillance System (NWSS), which was initially developed to coordinate and build the United States’ capacity to track the presence of SARS-CoV-2, and other infectious-disease causing pathogens in wastewater, by awarding grants to state, tribal, and local health departments. These grants would allow communities to bolster their detection and monitoring capabilities of infectious diseases through wastewater for public health emergency preparedness and response.

The PREDICT Act has also been included as a provision in the Pandemic and All Hazards Preparedness Act of 2023 (PAHPA), a package of reauthorization bills to improve the United States’ preparedness and response capabilities for public-health emergencies.

“We learned from the COVID-19 pandemic that monitoring wastewater systems can provide dependable data which can be used to detect and track the spread of infectious disease,” said Senator Romney. “This bill will bolster Utah’s already sophisticated wastewater monitoring technology by ensuring it receives the funding needed to continue to invest in new research and technology, so we can be better equipped to fight future pandemics.”

“Wastewater surveillance is a powerful tool to rapidly detect infectious diseases and protect our nation’s public health,” said Senator Booker. “By investing in the National Wastewater Surveillance System, we can strengthen our ability to detect and respond to public health emergencies swiftly and deploy targeted interventions to prevent outbreaks. I am proud to join my colleagues in introducing this bipartisan legislation that would safeguard the health and well-being of all communities.”

“The last few years have demonstrated the need and importance of investments in public health,” said Senator King. “By expanding wastewater surveillance across the country, the bipartisan PREDICT Act will help identify potentially dangerous viruses, track their spread, and prevent future pandemics. Building on these existing monitoring systems is a commonsense way to promote healthier and safer communities. I’m proud to work with my friends Senators Booker and Romney on this important effort.”

Specifically, the PREDICT Act would:

  • Direct the CDC to award grants to state, tribal, and local health departments to establish, maintain, or improve activities related to wastewater surveillance. Grants can be used to:
    • Establish, or enhance, existing capacity and capabilities to conduct wastewater sampling and related analysis.
    • Conduct wastewater testing at individual facilities, institutions, and locations in rural areas, in which there is an increased risk of infectious disease outbreaks.
    • Implement projects that use evidence-based practices to conduct wastewater monitoring activities.
  • Invest in research to develop evidence-based best practices for wastewater data collection and to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of wastewater sample collection, analysis, and testing methods. 

The full text of the bill can be found here.