The Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation has wrapped up its 2018 summertime testing of water quality for beaches around Ketchikan.
The state has been testing water quality weekly since May. Those tests have shown elevated levels of enterococci bacteria at South Point Higgins Beach, Thomas Basin, Rotary Beach (also known as Bugge’s Beach), Mountain Point and Herring Cove.
Fecal coliform bacteria levels also were above state limits for consumption of raw fish and shellfish at Shull Beach, Sunset Beach, Seaport Beach, Mountain Point, and Herring Cove. Fish caught in those areas should be cleaned with fresh water and cooked to a minimum internal temperature of 145 degrees Fahrenheit.
According to the state, bacteria monitoring will resume in 2019 to help determine bacteria sources, and to help the community find solutions. Both enterococci and fecal coliform bacteria can come from any warm blooded animal, including birds, seals, dogs and humans.
The state tested 11 beaches near Ketchikan this summer. In addition to those listed above, tested beaches were Knudson Cove, Beacon Hill and Refuge Cove.
According to DEC, the Alaska BEACH Program has been monitoring recreational beaches throughout the state since 2002. That includes Douglas Island, Haines, Juneau, Petersburg, and Wrangell. Sample results have not shown persistent elevated levels of bacteria in those communities.
Monitoring location maps and analytical data are available on the Alaska BEACH Grant Program Website. A full report will be posted on the website later this year.