Kenai Watershed Forum Says Bacterial Spike Natural

As we previously reported, June 2013 saw a spike in bacteria levels on the Kenai beaches and the Kenai Watershed Forum continues to monitor that.


Executive Director Robert Ruffner of the Watershed Forum said that last year’s spike was related to Gull waste however there’s not necessarily a way to pinpoint why.


Ruffner: “I can’t think of any reason why we would expect things to be higher or lower this year, one of the things that’s funny about bacterial levels are that they are very highly variable so one time we might go out and detect a sample that’s quite low and then ten minutes later go out and take a sample that’s quite high so that’s just the nature of bacteria and they found that in the creeks around here and in Anchorage as well as down there on the beach. It’s very difficult to predict.” 


We asked Ruffner if Kenai’s proposal to close beaches in order to clean the fish waste would decrease the bacteria levels from the birds.


Ruffner: “If we were trying to make that correlation I think we would see a reduction in the Gull population and I don’t think that we’ll see that because the Gull population is really dictated by how their hatchlings have done in the spring time so its not really related to the fish waste on the beach, the number of gulls that are produced every year, that’s something that’s happening much earlier in the year. Their survival rates may be higher as a result of waste on the beach but that’s pretty speculative.” 


Ruffner said that the forum will start the bacteria checks again in July as the dip net season nears.

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