DEC continues sampling of coastal water bacteria through September
July 15, 2018
Recently, the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation lifted the advisory for the beach at Ketchikan's Knudson Cove because enterococci bacteria levels were found to be within the state’s limit for safe recreation. The advisory was first initiated for Knudson Cove on May 24th.
Fecal coliform bacteria levels were above state limits protecting consumption of raw fish and shellfish at three beaches including South Point Higgins Beach, Rotary Pool and Herring Cove. Because the elevated levels have not been persistent, an advisory was not in effect for these beaches. However, 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.
As part of a statewide recreational beach monitoring program, marine water samples will be collected at the listed coastal areas to evaluate enterococci and fecal coliform bacteria levels from May 17 – September 12.
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 in Ketchikan may include wildlife and pet feces, human waste from private and municipal treatment systems, sewer line leakage, and/or boats in harbor areas. Contact with water impacted by enterococci or fecal coliform bacteria may cause stomach aches, diarrhea, or ear, eye, and skin infections.
The beach sampling program is in its second year, and 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. Since 2002, the Alaska’s BEACH Program has been monitoring recreational beaches throughout the state, including other communities in southeast Alaska: Douglas Island, Haines, Juneau, Petersburg, and Wrangell. Sample results have not shown persistent elevated levels of bacteria in these communities.
All of the other locations tested in May met water quality criteria for enterococci bacteria levels. According to the DEC, fecal coliform bacteria levels at some sites were occasionally above criteria, but results were not persistent so an advisory was not issued. Samples were taken at:
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Editing by Mary Kauffman, SitNews
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