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Alaska BEACH Grant Program

The Alaska Beach Program

The DEC beach monitoring program 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, funded by an EPA BEACH grant to DEC. Since 2002, the DEC beach monitoring program has been collecting water quality samples at coastal recreation beaches throughout the state. Beaches were selected based on risk factors identified in community surveys. 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.

2019 Ketchikan Beaches

The Alaska BEACH program which monitors fecal bacteria contamination for beaches along the Ketchikan coastline has begun sampling for the 2019 recreation season on May 15. Marine water samples will be collected weekly from mid-May through mid-September to evaluate potential health risks indicated by fecal coliform and enterococci bacteria, and to notify the public when levels exceeded state standards. The 2018 Ketchikan Beach Monitoring Field report is attached below, and the comprehensive report will be posted here when final. Updated information is added below as it becomes available.

Press Releases

Other

2019 Kenai River Beaches

The Alaska BEACH program which monitors fecal bacteria contamination for the North and South Kenai River beaches, the Warren Ames Bridge, and upstream and downstream of the gull colony in Kenai, Alaska will begin sampling for the 2019 recreation season on May 21. Marine water samples will be collected weekly from mid-May through mid-September to evaluate potential health risks indicated by fecal coliform and enterococci bacteria, compare the results to previous years’ data, and to notify the public when levels exceeded state standards. Seagulls are the source of the majority of the fecal pollution on the Kenai River beaches. Updated information is added below as it becomes available.

Press Releases

Other

2018 Ketchikan Beaches

The Alaska BEACH program which monitors fecal bacteria contamination for beaches along the Ketchikan coastline collected weekly marine water samples from mid-May through mid-September to evaluate potential health risks indicated by fecal coliform and enterococci bacteria, and to notify the public when levels exceeded state standards. The 2018 Ketchikan Beach Monitoring Field report is posted below, and a comprehensive report will be posted here when final.

Press Releases

Other

2018 Kenai River Beaches

The Alaska BEACH program which monitors fecal bacteria contamination for the North and South Kenai River beaches, the Warren Ames Bridge, and upstream and downstream of the gull colony in Kenai, Alaska concluded sampling for the 2018 recreation season. Marine water samples were collected weekly from mid-May through mid-September to evaluate potential health risks indicated by fecal coliform and enterococci bacteria, compare the results to previous years’ data, and to notify the public when levels exceeded state standards. Seagulls are the source of the majority of the fecal pollution on the Kenai River beaches. Updated information is added below as it becomes available.

Press Releases

Other

2017 Ketchikan Beaches

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 .

Press Releases

Other

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.

2019 Sampling

Grant funds were awarded to the communities of Kenai and Ketchikan. Sampling is being conducted by the 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 Press Releases

Past BEACH Reports

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