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July 14, 2023

King Introduces Bipartisan Bill to Strengthen Wastewater Testing to Better Protect Public Health

The PREDICT Act would help Maine communities bolster their detection and monitoring of infectious diseases

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Angus King (I-Maine), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), and Mitt Romney (R-Utah) have introduced bipartisan legislation that would expand the United States’ capacity to track infectious diseases in wastewater. The Public health Response and Emergency Detection through Integrated wastewater Community Testing Act (PREDICT) Act, would significantly strengthen the National Wastewater Surveillance System (NWSS), by continuing to award grants to state, tribal, and local health departments, allowing them to bolster their detection and monitoring capabilities of infectious diseases for public health emergency preparedness and response.

“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.”

"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."

“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.”

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

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Senator King worked to strengthen public health infrastructure and provide the necessary healthcare and medical resources to Maine communities. King worked to negotiate the American Rescue Plan which provided critical funding for vaccine distribution efforts, in addition to helping states and communities survive the economic toll of the pandemic. Last year, he stressed the need to continue exercising the Defense Production Act (DPA) authorities to boost domestic manufacturing of critical COVID-19 resources when demand wanes to ensure the country can respond to unforeseen pandemic developments in the future, and he similarly urged the administration recently to better address domestic capacity to manufacture supplies for future response to infectious disease threats.

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