Whatever you flush down the drains in your home or business may be tested for COVID-19 and its variants as part of a national study. According to a news release from the city, the Des Moines Metropolitan Wastewater Reclamation Authority is participating in the study, which is funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Institutes of Health, and Biobot Analytics. The program will continue for the next eight to nine weeks as the Des Moines agency takes multiple samples a week and sends them to a national lab. The agency treats, cleans and returns wastewater to the Des Moines River from 17 metro communities and more than 500,000 residents. The program will cover more than 100 million people in all 50 states with hundreds of wastewater treatment plants participating. According to the news release, the study will generate information that will allow for more effective responses in the next phase of the COVID-19 pandemic and help officials accurately track the virus as vaccination coverage increases, communities reopen and new variants emerge.