Red Mountain project reservoirs to pump Yakima River water almost finished

90,000 feet of of piping to bring water to station already finished

Tri-City HeraldJune 15, 2014 

An $18 million project to bring Yakima River water to prime grape growing land on Red Mountain near Benton City is nearing completion.

Kennewick Irrigation District officials expect to be able to test the new system in August to ensure the Kiona intake station is ready to pump river water.

The 90,000 feet of water lines needed to bring the river water from the intake station near the intersection of Highway 224 and Demoss Road to Red Mountain has been finished, said Chuck Freeman, KID's manager.

Landowners already have been building their own private lines to connect to the main lines so they can use the water when it becomes available.

The two reservoirs for the project should be finished within the next 30 days, Freeman said. One, a 400,000-gallon reinforced concrete reservoir, is being buried to avoid obstructing views. The reservoir is southwest of Ste. Michelle Wine Estates' Col Solare property.

The pump test will last for about six weeks and allow KID to get any bugs worked out before next year, when farmers will be using the water on grape vines, Freeman said. KID officials are hoping landowners will draw on the water with their new systems, perhaps using it to fill up a pond.

"The more stress we put on the system, the better," Freeman said.

Property owners within the local improvement district, or LID, are paying for the cost of the project, which will irrigate 1,785 acres.

About 400 of the privately owned acres included in the improvement district include vineyards being irrigated with groundwater. They will switch to river water once it becomes available.

Others plan to plant new vineyards once the water becomes available.

Aquilini Properties, owned by a family who also owns the Vancouver Canucks, bought all 670 acres of undeveloped land KID offered up in an auction last year and is paying about $7.6 million for its part of the local improvement district project.

KID will do a final assessment roll after the construction is complete, Freeman said. Assessments will begin in 2015 and will include payments for the LID and for operations and maintenance.

Property owners will have the choice to repay their portion of the LID costs upfront or to have it be part of their annual assessment until it is paid off, he said. Operations and maintenance payments will continue in perpetuity.

-- Kristi Pihl: 509-582-1512; kpihl@tricityherald.com

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