Waterborne diseases are a major global problem, resulting in high morbidity and mortality, and massive economic costs. The ability to rapidly and reliably detect and monitor the spread of waterborne diseases is vital for early intervention and preventing more widespread disease outbreaks. Pathogens are, however, difficult to detect in water and are not practicably detectable at acceptable concentrations that need to be achieved in treated drinking water (which are of the order one per million litre). Furthermore, current clinical-based surveillance methods have many limitations such as the invasive nature of the testing and the challenges in testing large numbers of people. Wastewater-based epidemiology (WBE), which is based on the analysis of wastewater to monitor the emergence and spread of infectious disease at a population level, has received renewed attention in light of the current coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. The present review will focus on the application of WBE for the detection and surveillance of pathogens with a focus on severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) and the waterborne protozoan parasites Cryptosporidium and Giardia. The review highlights the benefits and challenges of WBE and the future of this tool for community-wide infectious disease surveillance.