Kenai River beaches have elevated bacteria levels

Recently collected water quality samples collected along Kenai River beaches indicate elevated levels of enterococci bacteria in marine water along Kenai River beaches, Department of Environmental Conservation officials said July 17.

DEC has been collecting these samples along coastal beach areas in Kenai periodically since 2010.

The state agency warns that contact with water impacted by enterococci or fecal coiform bacteria may cause stomach aches, diarrhea, or ear, eye and skin infections. DEC recommends beach users take normal precautions to avoid exposure, such as avoiding swimming in the water, washing after contact with the water, and rinsing fish with clean water after they have been harvested from the area. As always, people should cook seafood to a minimum internal temperature of 145 degrees Fahrenheit to destroy pathogens.

Samples collected on July 3 and July 13 contained levels above the state’s enterococci and fecal coliform bacteria limit for recreation and harvesting for consumption of raw fish and shellfish. Until sample results meet water quality standards and DEC lifts this advisory, DEC advises taking precautionary measures when recreating. Results of the next sampling were to be released on July 23.

For more information about the beach monitoring program, visit the Alaska BEACH Grant Program website: