Director Dru Buntin holding the pinnacle award with the MoDNR team members and management

In 2020, the Missouri Department of Natural Resources partnered with the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, Missouri Department of Corrections, Missouri Department of Mental Health, Missouri Department of Public Safety’s Missouri Veterans Commission and researchers from the University of Missouri–Columbia to create Missouri’s Coronavirus Sewershed Surveillance Project.

In June 2022, Governor Parson awarded this team a Pinnacle Award at the 2021 Governor’s Awards for Quality and Productivity ceremony for their efforts on this groundbreaking project. The Pinnacle Award is awarded when, in the opinion of the selection committee, a nomination clearly encompasses multiple award categories in a manner that exemplifies the spirit of the Governor's Award, or exceeds all other nominations.

The project’s goal was to test domestic wastewater for genetic markers of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19 during the peak of the pandemic. Sewershed surveillance cannot tell us the number of individuals currently infected with COVID-19. However, the results provided meaningful statistics for interpretation that aided in tracking the virus’s progression and informed public health strategy. 

More than 100 participating community water systems across Missouri are testing COVID-19 viral load in the wastewater. This project was the first and one of the largest scale projects of its kind in the United States. Missouri was one of the first states to initiate this testing. For more information about Missouri’s Coronavirus Sewershed Surveillance Project, visit The Sewershed Surveillance Project.

MoDNR Team Members pictured left-right: (front) Cindy LePage, Sally Zemmer, Kyra Moore, Carey Bridges (back) Todd Blanc, Aaron Schmidt, Chris Wieberg, Art Goodin, Director Dru Buntin, John Hoke (not pictured) Jessica Klutts

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