2014 Wrangell Beach Monitoring Program Results: Beaches Meet Water Quality Standards
This summer the Southeast Alaska Watershed Coalition began a recreational beach monitoring program to test popular local beaches for levels of harmful bacteria. With support from the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation the Wrangell Beach program sampled waters at City Park and Petroglyph beach for organisms that indicate fecal contamination.
The Beach Program was established by the Alaska DEC through the Alaska Clean Water Actions program to provide support for communities to begin monitoring marine water quality at high-priority beaches for bacterial pollution, specifically, fecal coliform and enterococci. City Park and Petroglyph beaches were identified by DEC as high priority because they are commonly used for community recreation.
The Southeast Alaska Watershed Coalition (SAWC) began collecting samples at City Park and Petroglyph beaches in July and sampled weekly until the middle of September, for a total of 9 sampling events in 2014. During the 2014 season there were no bacterial exceedances identified; all samples came back safely below limits set by the State of Alaska and US EPA for public health criteria. Water quality standards set safe limits for fecal coliform bacteria at 200 fecal coliforms per 100mL sampled, and safe limits for enterococcus bacteria at 276 enterococci per 100mL.
Shoreline developments, wastewater collection and treatment facilities, septic tanks, urban runoff, disposal of waste from boats, and domestic and wildlife animal waste can all contribute to bacterial pollution at public beaches and in other waterbodies. People who swim and recreate in contaminated waters are at an increased risk of becoming ill. Through this monitoring program, SAWC’s goal is to keep local managers informed and reduce public health risks for people recreating at these beaches. In the event of an unsafe level of bacterial contamination detected during monitoring, SAWC has plans in place with the Alaska DEC and the City and Borough of Wrangell to notify the public and limit beach access until water quality is returned to a level safe for public health.
The Wrangell Beach monitoring program will continue this year with water sampling beginning in May. The Southeast Alaska Watershed Coalition has sought funding to continue the program into 2016, and should receive confirmation on program continuation sometime this spring.
For more information please contact
Angie Eldred, Communications Coordinator
(907) 231-1710 | firstname.lastname@example.org