The water gets affected in a few ways. Water that comes out downstream contains less sediment, which has been linked to erosion, especially when it comes out intermittenly (as is the case on many dams). The water is often significantly warmer than upstream. The concentration of oxygen in the water changes as well, compared to what it was before naturally. The water will also come out at much smaller speed. All of this results in large changes in the environment for plants and animals, often hurting endangered species.
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