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Animals and Water Quality

Why is Livestock Waste Management Important?


      In 70 percent of the lakes, rivers and streams that the Environmental Protection Agency has identified as failing to meet water quality standards, agricultural runoff is the largest source of pollutants. This is the situation within the Jordan Lake Watershed located in the piedmont of North Carolina. Runoff from animal production facilities carries manure, soil and other debris that may contaminate surface and groundwater sources.

      As seen in the maps below, North Carolina is at high risk for water degradation due to the high amounts of Nitrogen and Phosphorus found in the manure streaming into our water supply from livestock farms.


       If not managed properly, animal wastes from sources such as hog, beef, dairy, horse, poultry, and sheep operations can affect water quality and, potentially, your health. Bacteria in animal wastes can contaminate drinking water and may cause potentially serious illnesses. High concentrations of nitrate, a form of nitrogen that develops naturally from decomposing organic matter (including manure) and from commercial nitrogen fertilizers in drinking water may particularly harm unborn or young infants and young livestock.

       The best way to protect water quality for human and livestock health is to manage livestock waste so that it does not contaminate nearby water sources.

For More Information:

Farm *A* Syst North Carolina - "Improving Storage, Handling and Disposal of Livestock Waste"

Natural Resources Conservation Service

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