We’re pleased that the Ketchikan Beach Program is now in its fourth season of monitoring local recreation beaches for fecal coliform and enterococci bacteria.

Not pleasant stuff to think about, but the program that’s funded by a grant through the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation provides data that’s valuable to local beach-goers and policy makers.

The Alaska Clean Water Actions Grant is managed by the Southeast Alaska Watershed Coalition, and the water samples are collected by Ketchikan Indian Community personel.

Since 2017, the program has collected marine water samples from local beaches weekly from mid-May through mid-September. Test results are announced relatively quickly, giving the beach-going public information about whether a water-quality issue currently exists at their beach destination of choice.

Test results updates can be found on the DEC Division of water website at https://dec.alaska.gov/water/water-quality/beach-program/ketchikan/.

The Ketchikan area has been fortunate in that no results showing enterococci levels that would exceed the state standard for primary contact recreation have been detected during the past three weeks of testing at the 12 beaches involved in the program, according to DEC announcements. There had been issues at one to three beaches during all but one of the six previous testing periods going back to mid-March.    

On a broader perspective, the accumulation of data over time provides information that can assist the community in understanding whether long-term issues exist that should be addressed.

It’s a good combination of  near- and long-term benefits for Ketchikan, and we appreciate that the Ketchikan Beach Program continues to operate.