Pasco OKs environmental assessment for raw water intake project

By Geoff Folsom, Tri-City HeraldMay 6, 2013 

The Pasco City Council approved an agreement Monday evening that will pay the Army Corps of Engineers to take care of some of the paperwork required for building a new water supply intake.

The professional services agreement, approved by a 7-0 vote, pays the Corps $57,450.37 to complete an environmental assessment for construction of the raw water intake into the Columbia River, located near the Interstate 182 bridge in west Pasco.

The Corps requires the environmental assessment as part of its permitting process, and, according to city documents, the study could cost more than $100,000 if a private consultant were used.

While the city will need more permits from other agencies, such as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, city manager Gary Crutchfield said some of the work done by the Corps will go toward helping the city secure those, as well.

The project, which will supply raw water to Pasco's new water treatment plant, will be able to take in up to 25 million gallons of water per day, compared to 9 million gallons per day for the existing intake.

"Because the city continues to grow, we've got to think about water needs 15 to 20 years from now," Mayor Matt Watkins said.

Despite the cost savings, Crutchfield said the city still expects to pay around $400,000 on permitting for the project, and some of that will require using private consultants. He hopes to start construction on the estimated $2 million project in 2015 and finish that same year.

"The permitting is going to take longer than the construction," he said.

In other business, the council unanimously approved a measure to raise the city's minimum wage for temporary workers. Members expressed disagreement over the need for the increase, which was done to match the rise in the state minimum wage to $9.19 an hour.

Watkins said he recently shared a ride with a representative from a large Tri-City business who was trying to recruit an out-of-state restaurant chain to the area.

"They said, 'Heck no, you guys have a really messed up minimum wage law,' " Watkins recalled the business official saying, adding that he had to vote for the increase because it was a state mandate. "This is one of those things that is not sustainable."

Watkins said he would like to see state law changed to allow for the minimum wage to compensate for when the cost of living goes down.

Mayor Pro-Tem Rebecca Francik said the law is helping Pasco.

"We do have to remember the flip side of this," she said. "If we have people that are making a living wage when they are working 40 hours a week, then we don't have to have subsidized health care and other things that are actually subsidizing businesses on the back end."

In other action, the council:

w Named Arthur Job, Craig Howell and Jason Ruud to the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board, while reappointing Edmon Daniels and Abigail Kidd.

w Vacated a portion of East Lewis Place from Heritage Boulevard to State Route 12.

w Allowed AT&T to build a temporary cellular tower in an enclosed area at TRAC. The company is planning to build a permanent tower at the same site in the future.

w Banned parking along Homerun Road, located near TRAC and the sports complex. Public Works director Ahmad Qayoumi said that when cars are parked on both sides of the road, the travel lane is reduced to around 14 feet, making it difficult for emergency vehicles to get through.

w Approved limiting parking to two hours on a 120-foot stretch of the north side of Sylvester Street east of Fourth Avenue.

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