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DEC Lifts Advisory for Knudson Cove and Continues Watch for Exceedances in Ketchikan

For immediate release — June 19, 2018

Contact: Gretchen Pikul, Division of Water, 907-269-5023,

Juneau, AK — The Department of Environmental Conservation is lifting the advisory for the beach at Knudson Cove in Ketchikan because enterococci bacteria levels are now within the state’s limit for safe recreation.

The Knudson Cove advisory initiated on May 24, is being lifted following two weeks of samples showing the water is consistently meeting water quality standards. Marine water samples have been collected weekly since May 17, for a total of five weekly sampling events this year. 

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 is 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.

Samples were taken at:

  • Knudson Cove (16 miles north of Ketchikan, near Clover Pass)
  • Beacon Hill (off of North Point Higgins Road)
  • South Point Higgins Beach (on Port Higgins)
  • Shull Road (south of Whipple Creek)
  • Sunset Beach (south end of Mud Bay)
  • Refuge Cove Beach (south end of Refuge Cove Beach State Park)
  • Thomas Basin (Stedman Street Bridge, mouth of Ketchikan Creek)
  • Seaport Beach (near Saxman)
  • Rotary Pool, also known as Bugges Beach (south of Saxman)
  • Mountain Point – Cultural Foods location (near Mountain Point boat launch)
  • Herring Cove Beach (north end of Herring Cove)

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. Monitoring locations maps and results table are shown on the Alaska BEACH Grant Program Website.

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.

For more information about the Alaska beach monitoring program, visit the Alaska BEACH Grant Program Website.

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