News & Events

Water Quality and Veterinary Health

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March 18, 2011

The Society for Range Management has bestowed Outstanding Achievement Awards upon Cooperative Extension Specialists Rob Atwill and Ken Tate, international leaders in the science and management of surface water quality of rangelands.

UC Davis Veterinary Medicine Extension Specialist Atwill is Director of the Western Institute of Food Safety and Security in the School of Veterinary Medicine. Based in the UC Davis Department of Plant Sciences, Tate is a Russell L. Rustici Endowed Chair in Rangeland Watershed Sciences.

“Drs. Tate and Atwill compiled an unequaled record of collaborative research leading to a better understanding of surface water pollution on rangelands and practices that ameliorate pollution,” said Cooperative Extension Specialist Mel George, himself a worldwide leader in rangeland management, who nominated the pair for the prestigious award. “Between them they have published more than 200 peer reviewed reports over the past decade. Together they have worked with public and private land managers and regulatory agencies to understand the fate and transport of surface water pollutants and to implement practices that reduce these pollutants.”

Early in their careers, Atwill and Tate were called on to inform public interest groups about the risk of pathogenic contamination of San Francisco’s drinking water supply. Their research helped identify management practices that would reduce the risk of drinking water contamination by livestock-borne Cryptosporidium parvum and allowed seven family ranchers to continue grazing in the watersheds east of San Francisco.

“More recently their proposal to study the risk of pathogen transfer from range livestock to adjacent fresh produce fields was prophetic,” George said. “The nationally publicized E. coli contamination of spinach in the Salinas Valley in 2006 occurred months after they submitted the proposal and only weeks before they were funded.”

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Atwill and Tate were honored in February during the annual meeting for the Society for Rangeland Management, a professional scientific society and conservation organization concerned with studying, conserving, managing and sustaining the varied resources of the rangelands which cover nearly half the planet. Established in 1948, the society has over 4,000 members in 48 countries, including many developing nations.

UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine conducts teaching, research and service programs benefiting animal health, public heath and environmental health. Currently, 524 students are enrolled in the four-year Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree program. The Western Institute for Food Safety and Security is a UC Davis program partnering with several state and national agencies. It is one of several programs of the School of Veterinary Medicine that emphasize livestock health and food safety, including the Center for Food Animal Health, the Veterinary Medicine Teaching and Research Center in Tulare, the William R. Pritchard Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital and the California Animal Health and Food Safety Laboratory System.


Contact: Rob Atwill, Western Institute for Food Safety and Security, ratwill@ucdavis.edu.