Tempe Tracing Opioid Use Through Wastewater

By Mariana Dale
Published: Tuesday, February 5, 2019 - 5:35pm
Updated: Tuesday, February 5, 2019 - 7:01pm

ASU and the City of Tempe are starting to learn more about how people use opioids by studying wastewater.

The study looks at trace amounts of heroin, fentanyl, oxycodone and codeine found in Tempe’s wastewater.

The data is then broken down into five geographical regions.

“What is going on in each area and can we see things that would correlate to the amount of opioids that we’re seeing at the water?” Those are some questions the city is trying to answer, said Tempe Enterprise GIS and Data Solutions Manager Stephanie Deitrick. She helps analyze the data in the city.  

You can see preliminary results from the study here.

The wastewater shows both legal and illegal opioid use.

“We are not trying to take this data and paint people who are using opioids in a negative light,”  Deitrick said.

The study is part of a year-long pilot program approved last year by Tempe City Council. The City is paying $35,000 toward the study.

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