The principal constituents of animal waste that impact surface water are organic matter, nutrients, and fecal bacteria. Animal waste may also increase the amount of suspended material in the water and affect the color either directly by the waste itself or indirectly through the production of algae. Indirect effects on surface water can also occur when sediment enters streams from feedlots or overgrazed pastures and from eroded streambanks at unprotected cattle crossings. The impact that these contaminants have on the aquatic environment is related to the amount and type of each pollutant entering the system and the characteristics of the receiving water.
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