Water testing off Ketchikan beaches shows elevated levels of enterococci bacteria for the Knudson Cove area, according to the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation.

DEC recommends that beach users at Knudson Cove take precautions to avoid exposure. That includes not swimming, washing after contact with the water, and rinsing fish with clean water after harvesting from the area.

DEC reports that water samples were collected on May 17th and 22nd from 11 locations. Only Knudson Cove showed elevated levels on both sampling dates. 

All other tested locations currently meet water quality criteria for enterococci bacteria. Fecal coliform bacteria levels at some sites were occasionally above criteria, according to DEC, but results were not persistent.

In addition to Knudson Cove, samples were taken at Beacon Hill off North Point Higgins Road, South Point Higgins Beach, Shull Road south of Whipple Creek, Sunset Beach, Refuge Cove Beach, Thomas Basin, Seaport Beach near Saxman, Rotary Beach (also known as Bugges Beach), Mountain Point, and Herring Cove Beach.

Water samples will be collected at those areas to evaluate bacteria levels through September 12.

Enterococci bacteria can come from any warm blooded animal, including birds, seals, dogs and humans. Contact with enterococci 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.