KETCHIKAN (KDN) — Water samples collected Monday at two of 12 Ketchikan-area beaches that are being monitored for water quality exceeded standards for enterococci bacteria.

The State of Alaska’s standard for enterococci bacteria in waters used for recreation is 130 MPN per 100 milliliters of water.

Testing of Monday’s water samples produced results of 3,448 MPN/100ml at Rotary Park Pool, and 192 MPN/100ml at Rotary Park Beach, according to an announcement from the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation.

“Exposure to fecal bacteria can cause illness in humans,” stated the DEC announcement. “Beachgoers are encouraged to wash their hands and shower after swimming or recreating in the water. Cook fish and shellfish to an internal temperature of 145 degrees Fahrenheit. Avoid direct contact with water when bacteria advisories are in effect.”

The remaining 10 Ketchikan-area beaches that are being monitored as part of the annual program tested below enterococci state recreation standards, according to the DEC announcement.

The Ketchikan beaches are involved in marine water sampling through  the Alaska Beach Monitoring Program, a nationwide effort to decrease water-borne illness at public beaches under the federal Beaches Environmental Assessment and Coastal Health Act.

The Alaska Clean Water Actions Grant for this project is managed by the Southeast Alaska Watershed Coalition, with water samples being collected by the Ketchikan Indian Community, according to DEC.

The program has been operating in the Ketchikan areas since 2017. The 2020 testing season began on May 21 and will continue through September, according to DEC information.

 “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,” stated the DOT announcement.

 The next sampling effort for the Ketchikan beaches is scheduled for planned for July 3, with sample results expected to be available in the late afternoon of July 4, according to DEC.