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2020 Recreational Beach Monitoring for Ketchikan Beaches Begins in May

Informing the community when bacteria levels may be a human health risk

  • For immediate release — May 14, 2020
  • Contact: Gretchen Augat, Division of Water, 907-465-5023

Juneau, AK — The Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has announced the start of the 4th bacteria monitoring season at 12 coastal beaches in Ketchikan.

The Ketchikan Beach Program is part of a statewide program which tests marine water samples weekly to evaluate bacteria levels from May 18 through mid-September. The program evaluates potential health risks as indicated by fecal coliform and enterococci bacteria, and notifies the public when levels exceed state standards. Past years of bacteria monitoring have shown elevated levels of bacteria along the Ketchikan coastline from several potential sources, including private and public sewer treatment systems, individual septic tanks, wildlife, pet feces, ferries, and private and commercial vessels.

Beach goers can stay informed on the Ketchikan Beach Program web page, where they will find answers to questions like: Which beaches have elevated bacteria levels? When was the last sample? What precautions can I take to keep my family more safe at the beach? How can I stay informed?

The DEC website now has an at-a-glance interactive map showing the beaches as red or green, and the most recent test results. Check out monitoring reports and press releases, and sign up to get beach updates emailed directly to you.

DEC posts weekly updates on DEC and Ketchikan Events Facebook pages, and is working with Ketchikan radio to provide a short daily reminder to visit the Ketchikan Beach web page before heading to the beach. We want you to stay safe while playing at the beach this summer!

The BEACH sampling program 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. Water samples have been collected by the Ketchikan Indian Community and the Southeast Watershed Coalition at Ketchikan beaches since 2017.

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