Cryptosporidium, Cattle, & Drinking Water

Potomac River Basin Drinking Water Source Protection Partnership

The Partnership’s Agricultural Issues workgroup held a webinar on Cryptosporidium, Cattle & Drinking Water:  Critical linkages between BMPs and safe drinking water as part of Penn State University’s Agriculture and Environment Center’s Manure du jour webinar series in July 2010. It was rebroadcast through the Mid-Atlantic Water Program in March 2011.


  • Mid-Atlantic Water Program (March 2011)
  • Manure du Jour (July 2010)

About the program

According to the USDA’s National Animal Health Monitoring System, almost all dairy calves will be infected with the parasite Cryptosporidium at some point in their lives. This is a challenge for both the farmer and the populations that live downstream. Cryptosporidium has proven to be a major problem for drinking water systems because it can survive in the environment for long periods of time and is resistant to many drinking water disinfection practices, including chlorine. Because crypto cannot reliably be treated at drinking water treatment plants, source water protection is essential. Just one animal has the potential to contaminate water used by its own herd, neighboring herds and the source water for millions of people. Every farmer can play an important role in the reduction of movement of pathogens from farms to the environment. A variety of commonly used BMPs help to improve livestock health and prevent Cryptosporidium and other contaminants from leaving a farm and entering the environment including the drinking water of millions of people. In this webcast, learn about Cryptosporidium and how commonly used BMPs can protect both livestock and public health.

Conservation district, Extension, NRCS, animal health, and ag consultant professionals are often the first line of defense in working with the producer – and are uniquely positioned to incorporate the issues related to public health and drinking water protection into discussions regarding the conservation suite of practices necessary for today’s farmers. Included in this webinar discussion about public health and drinking water quality are questions regarding how this pathogen impacts herd health.