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Tempe will detail its opioid abuse programs at Aug. 16 meeting

By Christina Estes
Published: Tuesday, August 8, 2023 - 2:39pm

City of Tempe
Tempe’s Wastewater BioIntel Program tests wastewater for the presence of seven opioid-related analytes.

Tempe is inviting residents and business owners to learn how the city is addressing the opioid crisis

The city’s strategies include better data by testing wastewater for opioids. Wydale Holmes, who oversees the city’s strategic management and innovation office, said they don’t conduct individual wastewater tests. Instead, they only test in areas with at least 3,000 people.

“Utilizing that, alongside fire and other health data, able to start driving decisions about where do we need more education, outreach, communication, prevention, those types of things,” she said.

The city’s website details its wastewater testing program, including test results. 

City of Tempe
Wastewater testing process provided by Tempe.

The city has been working with the nonprofit Tempe Coalition to offer RX360, a drug education and prevention program to schools and businesses.

“They’re finding right now that fentanyl pills are also being laced with other chemicals that are deadly, and so they are pushing to help educate and expand Narcan training to include schools, businesses and community members,” Holmes said.

Narcan is the brand name for a medication designed to quickly reverse opioid overdoses. 

Holmes said RX360 has helped people across Tempe better understand opioid abuse and misuse.

“It also created awareness that this wasn’t just a situation for people over there, in another area of the city. It meant that we knew that we had this broadly across the community,” she said.

City of Tempe
The city of Tempe tests wastewater for opioids.The presence of drugs are identified by their unique chemical compounds.

A community conversation will take place Aug. 16 at 5:30 p.m. at the Tempe History Museum, 809 E. Southern Avenue. RSVP at [email protected] or 480-826-3190,

Tempe offers a 24/7 hotline to answer questions and provide resources to overcome substance use and addition at 480-350-8004.

City of Tempe
Wastewater testing information that can be found on Tempe's website.

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