August 15, 2022

Manchin Announces $903K for Mobile Wastewater Testing Lab at West Virginia University

Charleston, WV – Today, U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV), member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, announced West Virginia University (WVU) will receive $930,000 to develop and equip a mobile wastewater-testing laboratory for use across West Virginia. The mobile lab will help forecast infectious disease outbreaks and detect where drug misuse may be widespread. The funding is made possible by a Congressionally Directed Spending (CDS) request secured by Senator Manchin and is funded through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA).

“Detecting infectious diseases before they spread across our communities is critical to protecting our fellow West Virginians. West Virginia University continues to be a leader in critical scientific and public health research, and I am pleased my earmark request will support their continued efforts to keep our communities safe,” said Senator Manchin. “As a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, I will continue advocating for resources, including earmarks, to support public health initiatives across the Mountain State.”

The funding announced today will support a new mobile wastewater-testing lab at West Virginia University to detect and forecast potential outbreaks of various diseases and drug misuse across the state without testing individuals. Modern lab tests of community wastewater can identify infectious disease agents, including signs of Hepatitis, HIV, COVID-19, elements of antibiotic resistance and other substances.

“Wastewater testing has quickly become a crucial public health tool in detecting the spread of COVID and other infectious diseases,” said Timothy Driscoll, associate professor of biology at West Virginia University. “Thanks to Senator Manchin's support, this mobile wastewater testing lab will enable WVU to bring this capability directly to communities and large events and remain a leader in using this powerful tool to protect the health of West Virginia communities.”

“Wastewater testing is a valuable, cost-effective method for monitoring the health of a community and for providing early warning of disease and overdose outbreaks,” said Dr. Gordon Smith, Stuart M. and Joyce N. Robbins Distinguished Professor in the WVU School of Public Health. “With support from Senator Manchin, this new mobile laboratory provides a wonderful opportunity to expand our work to monitor the health of rural populations in West Virginia that does not require testing of individuals.”

Congressionally Directed Spending (CDS), more commonly known as earmarks, allow state and local governments, non-profits, and other public entities to apply for targeted funding for projects to bolster their communities and directly support West Virginians. These local communities and organizations are now beginning to receive funding for projects that Senator Manchin fought for in last year’s funding bill. As a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Senator Manchin works to ensure taxpayer dollars are allocated to priorities that benefit all West Virginians, boost economic growth and support the needs of communities across the Mountain State while remaining fiscally responsible.