Kennewick reports interest in grape waste treatment plant

By Loretto J. Hulse, Tri-City HeraldMarch 13, 2014 

The design work for a wine effluent treatment plant is under way to help kick-start development of a new wine-inspired development along Columbia Drive in Kennewick.

Kennewick City Manager Marie Mosley told the Kennewick City Council this week during a workshop that there's a lot of interest in the project from winery representatives and vendors who attended the recent Washington Association of Wine Grape Growers meeting in Kennewick.

She said she met several winery owners at the meeting interested in establishing a winery in the village.

Also attending the grape growers meeting was Terry Walsh, Kennewick's director of employee and community relations. One of the most important contacts Walsh said she made was with representatives from CES, a Spokane-based company that designs winery effluent systems.

"We're already working on a design with them," Walsh told the council, adding "the Department of Ecology has told us they will not require a permit for the wine effluent plant because the waste is ultimately going into (Kennewick's) own sewage treatment system."

The city budgeted about $800,000 to design and build the wine effluent treatment plant.

The effluent plant is important because it's hard for city waste water systems to handle the suspended solids and pH levels in grape waste.

It's also important to the wineries looking to move into the wine village because they wouldn't need to build their own system to process waste, Walsh said.

"That would save them thousands in start-up costs and would get them into business faster," she said.

Kennewick and the Port of Kennewick are partners in developing the wine village at Columbia Gardens on almost six acres in the middle of Columbia Drive.

City officials also are planning to invest about $500,000 to extend the existing nature trail around Duffy's Pond and put in paved parking and driveways to serve the wine village.

"Kennewick is in a very dynamic situation right now and we don't want to lose our momentum ... it's critical to our future," said Mayor Steve Young.

Walsh agreed, saying, "Economic development is truly a citywide focus. It's something we all work on day in, day out. It's always on the forefront of everyone's mind whether we're out recruiting businesses or looking for creative ways to entice industr; it's a team effort."

Some of the businesses city staff and council members are working to attract to Kennewick include grocery stores specializing in organic and other natural foods and restaurants offering a variety of different ethnic cuisine.

One place they may locate is in the expanded urban growth area recently approved by Benton County commissioners. The commissioners unanimously gave final approval to a request from Kennewick officials to add 1,263 acres south of Interstate 82 and west of Highway 395.

"The decision to add the acreage can be appealed to the state Growth Management Hearings Board within 60 days from the time the decision was published, which was March 7," said Greg McCormick, the city's planning director.

The land is zoned for agriculture, but is not under irrigation and is not being farmed. The window of opportunity for appeals ends April 6.

The city has already budgeted money to extend utilities and the state has committed $1.5 million for storm drains and road improvements.

"Already we've had a lot of interest from Realtors," Walsh said.

-- Loretto J. Hulse: 582-1513; lhulse@tricityherald.com

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