Advisory for Ketchikan Beaches Issued; Enterococci bacteria may indicate a health risk
June 15, 2019
Water samples were collected on June 10, 2019 at 12 beaches. Five of these beaches showed elevated enterococci and fecal coliform levels. These beaches are:
Until sample results consistently meet water quality standards and DEC lifts this advisory, people should take precautionary measures when visiting the five beaches listed above. DEC recommends beach users take normal precautions to avoid exposure, such as avoid swimming in the water, and washing after contact with the water. DEC recommends that when fishing in these areas people should rinse fish/marine foods with clean water and cook seafood to a minimum internal temperature of 145 degrees Fahrenheit to destroy pathogens.
Fecal coliform bacteria levels were also above state limits protecting consumption of raw fish and shellfish at six additional beaches: Knudson Cove, South Point Higgins Beach, Seaport Beach, Rotary Beach, Herring Cove Beach and Mountain Point Surprise Beach. A recreational advisory is not in effect for these beaches, but cleaning and cooking fish is highly recommended.
Enterococci and fecal coliform bacteria can come from any warm blooded animal, including birds, seals, and dogs, as well as humans. Potential sources of this bacteria on Ketchikan beaches may include wildlife and pet feces, human waste from private and municipal treatment systems, sewer line leakage, and/or boats in harbor areas.
As part of a statewide recreational beach monitoring program, marine water samples will be collected at specific coastal areas to evaluate fecal coliform and enterococci bacteria levels weekly from May to September 2019. Monitoring locations maps and sampling information are shown on the Alaska BEACH Grant Program website.
The BEACH sampling program is funded and implemented by DEC. It is part of a nationwide effort to decrease the incidence of water-borne illness at public beaches under the federal Beaches Environmental Assessment and Coastal Health (BEACH) Act. Water samples have been collected periodically at Ketchikan beaches since 2017.
Edited by Mary Kauffman, SitNews
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