Alaska BEACH Grant Program
The Alaska Beach Program
In 2002, in response to the authorization of The BEACH Act by Congress, Alaska's BEACH Program was established. Alaska's BEACH Program provides support for communities to begin monitoring marine water quality at high-priority beaches. The program provides grants to local communities, tribal governments, and watershed councils to sample beach water for organisms (fecal coliforms and enterococci bacteria) that indicate the presence of fecal contamination. By notifying the public in the event that a sample exceeds the allowable levels, the program helps to prevent illnesses that could result from exposure to contaminated beach water.
Communities that have participated in the BEACH program include Anchor Point, Anchorage, Dillingham, Douglas Island, Haines, Homer, Juneau, Kasilof, Kenai, Ketchikan, King Salmon, Naknek, Nome, Petersburg, and Wrangell.
The Alaska BEACH program was initiated along the Ketchikan coastline to monitor fecal waste contamination during the 2017 recreation season. Marine water samples were collected from July through September to evaluate potential health risks indicated by fecal coliform and enterococci bacteria, and to notify the public when levels exceeded state standards. For more detailed information, click on the 2017 Ketchikan BEACH Monitoring report and press release links below .
Identifying Alaskan Beaches
Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation's Beach Grant Program defines a beach as "any shoreline where recreational activities may bring a person into complete or partial body contact with marine water." NOTE: This definition may include sections of a shoreline that do not appear to look like a sandy beach.
A Recreational Beach Survey was performed in 2003 to gather information from coastal communities about the recreational use of beaches in their area. The 60 responses that were received identified 203 recreational-use beaches as areas that were used for recreational purposes. These beaches were located in 53 coastal Alaskan communities. The survey indicated that some beaches may be more likely to have a higher levels of bacteria contamination than others. These high priority, or Tier 1, beaches, are the focus of the Alaska BEACH Program.
A three tiered monitoring structure for general testing of recreational waters was developed because Alaska does not have an extensive road system and easy access to microbiological laboratories. Tier 1 beaches include shorelines in more populated areas of the state, which are on an established road system and are within practical distance of an Alaska-certified microbiological laboratory. Practical distances are required because the microbiological samples need to travel from the recreation use beach to the laboratory for processing within a 6-hour sample holding time.
Grants were awarded to the community of Petersburg (Sandy Beach Park) and Ketchikan (nine coastal locations). Sampling is being completed by watershed council and tribal entities in cooperation with the local land representatives.
How Do I Get Involved?
If you are interested in participating in the Alaska's Beach Monitoring Program, please contact staff listed below to complete a beach survey. Your responses will help us rank your beaches based on the probability of fecal contamination, and human exposure to that pollution during recreation.
Past BEACH Reports
- 2016-2017 Petersburg BEACH Monitoring Report (PDF)
- 2015-2016 Wrangell-Petersburg BEACH Monitoring Report (PDF)
- 2010-2014 Kenai BEACH Monitoring Report (PDF)
- 2014-2015 Wrangell BEACH Monitoring Report (PDF)
- 2013-2014 Kenai River Beach Report (PDF)
- 2012-2013 Haines BEACH Monitoring Report (DOC)
- 2012-2013 Juneau BEACH Monitoring Report (PDF)
- 2012-2013 Kenai BEACH Monitoring Report (PDF)
- 2011-2012 Haines BEACH Monitoring Report (PDF)
- 2011-2012 Juneau BEACH Monitoring Report (PDF)
- 2011-2012 Southern Kenai Peninsula BEACH Monitoring Report (PDF)
- 2010-2011 Homer BEACH Monitoring Report (PDF)