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Efficacy of Natural Grassland Buffers for Removal of Cryptosporidium parvum in Rangeland Runoff

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Our goal for this project was to estimate the retention efficiency of natural grassland buffers for Cryptosporidium parvum. Three sets of 16 plots (2.0 by 3.0 m) were established at 5, 20, and 35% slopes. Within each set of 16 plots, residual dry vegetation matter treatments of 225, 560, and 900 kg/ha were implemented, along with a noncut control averaging 4,500 kg/ha. Buffer width treatments were implemented by placing cattle fecal material containing known loads of C. parvum 0.1, 1.1, or 2.1 m up-slope of the runoff collector. Grassland buffers of 1.1 and 2.1 m generated 3.2- to 8.8-log and 3.6- to 8.8-log retention of C. parvum, respectively, across the range of residual dry vegetation matter, land slope, rainfall, and runoff conditions examined during this project. Buffers with an increased percent land slope exhibited improved the retention efficiencies, whereas buffers experiencing larger maximum annual runoff events exhibited reduced retention efficiencies. Water-quality data from the 0.1-m-wide buffer plots (effectively no buffer) demonstrated that the majority of C. parvum oocysts (98 to 99.999%) were retained in the fecal matrix for the duration of the storm season, irrespective of the presence of a vegetated buffer. In conclusion, these results support the assertion that grassland buffers are an effective method for reducing animal agricultural inputs of waterborne C. parvum into drinking and irrigation water supplies.

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Veterinary Medicine Teaching and Research Center, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of California-Davis, Tulare, California 93274, USA 2: Department of Plant Sciences, University of California-Davis, Davis, California 95616, USA 3: Veterinary Medicine Extension, University of California-Davis, Davis, California 95616, USA 4: Department of Environmental Science Policy and Management, University of California-Berkeley, California 94720, USA 5: University of California Cooperative Extension, Yuba County, Yuba City, California 95991, USA

Publication date: January 1, 2006

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