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DEC Find Elevated Bacteria Levels on Kenai River Beaches

Fecal Coliform and Enterococci bacteria may indicate a health risk

For immediate release—July 17, 2018

Contact: Nancy Sonafrank, Division of Air Quality, 907-451-2726, nancy.sonafrank@alaska.gov

Kenai, AK—The Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has been collecting water quality samples along coastal beach areas in Kenai, Alaska periodically since 2010. This year DEC has planned monitoring and sampling from June through early September, 2018. Recently collected samples indicated elevated levels of enterococci bacteria in the marine water at the following locations:

  • South Kenai River Beach
  • North Kenai River Beach

Contact with water impacted by enterococci or fecal coliform bacteria may cause stomach aches, diarrhea, or ear, eye, and skin infections. DEC recommends beach users take normal precautions to avoid exposure, such as avoiding swimming in the water, washing after contact with the water, and rinsing fish with clean water after they have been harvested from the area. As always, people should cook seafood to a minimum internal temperature of 145 degrees Fahrenheit to destroy pathogens.

Water quality samples collected on July 3 and 13, 2018 contained levels above Alaska’s enterococci and fecal coliform bacteria limit for recreation and harvesting for consumption of raw fish and shellfish. Until sample results meet water quality standards and DEC lifts this advisory, people should take precautionary measures when recreating. The next sampling is scheduled for this week with results available on July 23.

The beach sampling program is being funded by the Environmental Protection Agency’s Beaches Environmental Assessment and Coastal Health (BEACH) Act grant program and is being implemented by DEC. It is part of a nationwide effort to decrease the incidence of water-borne illness at public beaches. For more information about the Alaska beach monitoring program, visit the Alaska BEACH Grant Program Website.

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