News & Updates

July 3, 2019

Getting to Know You: David Tamayo

This month we are talking with David Tamayo, an environmental scientist for Sacramento County Department of Water Resources in their Stormwater Quality Section for almost 25 years. The Stormwater Section is tasked with monitoring the quality of water to minimize the pollutants that come off urban landscapes and flow into creeks and rivers. The Section monitors industrial pollution, pesticides and bacterial pollution. They also do public outreach engaging and educating citizens about how daily activities have the potential to cause storm water pollution.


Dave has always been “a water person.” He enjoys white water rafting, and was a commercial fisherman. Dave led efforts to establish science programs and gardens in local schools, co-founded his neighborhood association, and successfully advocated for public parks, affordable housing, and urban infill. Dave is recognized as a public policy leader in protecting natural resources by effectively influencing state and federal environmental regulations. He wrote the Sacramento County storm water pollution ordinance, co-founded the River Friendly Landscaping Program (facilitated by EcoLandscape California which recently merged with ReScape), and helped create local, statewide, and national integrated pest management programs. Dave serves in an advisory capacity to the University of California Integrated Pest Management Program, US EPA Office of Pesticide Programs, California Department of Pesticide Regulation, and the National Pest Management Association



  1. How did you get interested/involved/engaged? I studied zoology in college; I was always interested in how to use science to benefit the environment. As a little kid, I was always fascinated with animals. I later got a masters in entomology; I found that collecting insects was very useful in understanding water quality through a biological lens.


  1. What do you want to people to learn/do in your work with them? Pesticide pollution is THE biggest problem in stormwater due to the use of insecticides in urban areas, including those used to control structural pests. And to be open to hearing concerns and learning about the solutions- to gain from them. To look for the systemic policy or barrier that contributes to the problem, and to put energy into solving the bigger issue.


  1. One thing you have learned over the years. To be more open to the ideas of others, and to be genuinely interested in their concerns even if I don’t agree.


  1. A big failure that (you) turned into a positive. After my divorce, to be much more empathetic- to pay attention to other people’s needs.


  1. What is most precious to you? A few people who care about me. 2. Spending time observing nature.


  1. What do you most value in your colleagues? They really care about doing a good job. They are very supportive of each other and me; they are genuinely nice people.


  1. Who are your heroes? Nelson Mandela 2. Lyndon Johnson for passing the civil rights bills 3. Nainoa Thompson- for reinvigorating interest in Polynesian navigation in long-distance canoeing. (I’m a member of the Polynesian Voyager Society.)


  1. What is your greatest achievement? I’m the President of the Board of Director’s for SMUD (Sacramento Municipal Water District). We’ve done a good job to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and also in addressing environmental justice issues.


  1. What is the thing for which you want to be remembered? That I cared about making a positive difference, and I made the world a better place for future generations.


  1. What would you tell your younger self? Be more frugal, study harder, and pay more attention to your family.


  1. The one thing you have not done/achieved and want to before you die: Bicycle across the United States.
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