Photo by Rashah McChesney/Peninsula Clarion BBranden Bornemann, environmental scientists for the of the Kenai Watershed Forum, takes a water sample at the mouth of the Kenai River for an Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation and City of Kenai program that measures bacteria in the water in Kenai, Alaska.

Photo by Rashah McChesney/Peninsula Clarion BBranden Bornemann, environmental scientists for the of the Kenai Watershed Forum, takes a water sample at the mouth of the Kenai River for an Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation and City of Kenai program that measures bacteria in the water in Kenai, Alaska.

Bacterial monitoring to continue on the Kenai, starts again on the Kasilof

  • By Rashah McChesney
  • Thursday, June 26, 2014 10:34pm
  • News

The Kenai Watershed Forum has been awarded a $96,000 grant to continue monitoring bacteria in the Kenai River.

The 2014 monitoring program will also include tests on the Kasilof River and advances in microbial source tracking could allow researchers to pinpoint which contributing source causes the most bacteria to end up in the rivers.

On the Kenai River common sources of bacteria include a large rookery — watershed forum researchers estimated between 7,500 and 10,000 birds during a day in June 2013 — an active dipnet fishery where hundreds of people camp and stand in the water near the mouth of the river, dogs and bacteria migrating downstream.

“The last time we looked at it, (researchers) could tell us who was contributing but they couldn’t give us a percentage of contribution and they tell us now they have a better handle on that,” said Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation Environmental Specialist Tim Stevens.

The state’s Department of Environmental Conservation, or DEC, funded the grant. The Kasilof River, which Stevens said does not contain the level of bacterial contamination that has been found in the Kenai River, has been added to the 2014 monitoring program so that researchers can have more data on that river’s water quality.

“We want two years of data on a beach before we stop monitoring it,” Stevens said. “We’re trying to get that second year for the Kasilof.”

Last year in July, elevated levels of fecal coliform and enterococci bacteria in the Kenai River prompted the DEC to warn dipnetters to wash their fish and avoid getting river water into their mouths. At the time, Steven said fecal coliform and eterococci bacteria were not dangerous, but are harbingers of harmful pathogens.

While the robust dipnet fishery, with all of its waste, can contribute to the elevated levels of bacteria, the river’s water quality standards for bacteria were exceeded in June 2013 — well before the fishery opened.

This year, researchers will change the monitoring program slightly by sampling twice a day to see if bacterial problems are consistent throughout the day. In addition, samples will also be collected around the bird rookery to see if it is a strong source of bacteria in the water.

Monitoring will take place at the Warren Ames Bridge and four locations on the north and south beaches at the mouth of the Kenai River. On the Kasilof River, four locations at the mouth of the river and one undetermined location farther upstream will be tested.

A report on the 2013 bacterial monitoring at the mouth of the Kenai has yet to be issued. Stevens said the City of Kenai was issued the grant last year. A report is due from that testing on June 30.

More in News

Kenai Fire Marshal Jeremy Hamilton is seen by one of Kenai Fire Department’s Tower trucks on Friday, Sept. 30, 2022 at Kenai Fire Department in Kenai, Alaska. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
‘Get up, get out and get safe’

Kids taught about fire safety as part of prevention effort

Bob Bird, left, chairman of the Alaskan Independence Party, and former Lt. Gov. Loren Leman make the case in favor of a state constitutional convention during a debate in Anchorage broadcast Thursday by Alaska Public Media. (Screenshot from Alaska Public Media’s YouTube channel)
Constitutional convention debate gets heated

Abortion, PFD factor into forum.

Carol Freas (right) helps a voter fill out absentee election materials in Kenai City Hall ahead of the Oct. 4 municipal election on Thursday, Sept. 29, 2022 in Kenai, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Absentee voting already underway

Absentee in-person voting has been made available across the borough

Graphic by Ashlyn O’Hara
Graphic by Ashlyn O’Hara
What’s on the ballot: Reapportionment, new field house, school bond

Voters will decide on ballot measures that address schools, public safety and legislative bodies

Cars line up ahead of dismissal at Mountain View Elementary School on Thursday, September 29, 2022, in Kenai, Alaska. A bond package up for consideration by Kenai Peninsula Borough voters on Oct. 4 would fund improvements to the school’s traffic flow. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
‘Critical needs’: Parking lot problems

Lack of space for pickup and drop-offs creates traffic jam at elementary school

Soldotna Elementary School Principal Dr. Austin Stevenson points out elements of the school building on Friday, Sept. 30, 2022, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
‘Critical needs’: Aging school on the brink

Renovations are cost prohibitive at Soldotna Elementary

Rep. Mary Peltola, an Alaska Democrat, delivers a speech on the U.S. House floor before Thursday’s vote approving her first bill, establishing an Office of Food Security in the Department of Veterans Affairs. It passed the House by a 376-49 vote, although its fate in the Senate is undetermined. (Screenshot from official U.S. House video)
Poll: Peltola’s a popular pol

Food for vets bill passes House, pollster says she is “the most popular figure in Alaska right now.”

A parking sign awaits the new executive director of the Alaska Permanent Fund at its Juneau headquarters, Three finalists will be interviewed for the job during a public meeting Monday by the fund’s board of trustees, who are expected to deliberate and announce the new director immediately afterward. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Interviews, selection of new Permanent Fund CEO set for Monday

Three finalists seeking to manage $73.7B fund to appear before trustees at public meeting in Juneau

Principal Sarge Truesdell looks at cracked siding outside of Soldotna High School on Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2022, in Soldotna, Alaska. The siding is one of several projects in a bond package Kenai Peninsula voters will consider during the Oct. 4 municipal election. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
‘Critical needs’: Split siding at SoHi

The damage has been given patchwork treatment over the years

Most Read