Adaptive management and Crypto control

Posted on December 15, 2009

Adaptive management tackles problems through repeated cycles of planning, intervention and evaluation, and its “learning by doing” principles have made it an attractive strategy to environmental managers.  However, there have been few reports of successful practical applications of adaptive management, mainly due to capacity limitations and conflicting stakeholder priorities.  A good example of adaptive management in the freshwater context involves the control of Cryptosporidium in the Myponga reservoir in South Australia.  Cryptosporidium is a parasitic protozoan that can threaten the safety of drinking water supplies by causing gut illness in humans and farm animals.  In the late 1990s, the Myponga contamination problem was identified and management measures instigated.  These included effluent control and fencing to exclude dairy stock from water courses.  Over the ensuing years regular monitoring revealed a reduction in Cryptosporidium concentrations.  A pathogen budget model was then used to identify the main remaining sources of Cryptosporidium and to compare the likely benefits of 30 possible control measures, which were identified at a community forum.  Surveys of local land use were also conducted.  These activities revealed that non-dairy calves were now the main source of Cryptosporidium, and that restricting their access to streams could lower Cryptosporidium levels in the Myponga reservoir by about 90%.  In this case adaptive management provided a suitable framework to integrate scientific assessment and stakeholder engagement in developing solutions to environmental and health problems.

Reference:  Bryan, B.A., Kandulu, J., Deere, D.A., White, M., Frizenschaf, J. & Crossman, N.D.  2009.    Adaptive management for mitigating Cryptosporidium risk in source water:  a case study in an agricultural catchment in South Australia.  Journal of Environmental Management 90, 3122–3134.