Kennewick rethinks winery waste water treatment for Columbia Gardens

The city of Kennewick may have found a less expensive way to treat the waste water that will be created by boutique wineries at Columbia Gardens.

While city staff investigate a pretreatment option, the Port of Kennewick has put the construction of three buildings along Columbia Drive on hold.

Because Columbia Gardens is a new, unique project, port Executive Director Tim Arntzen said port and city officials have learned interesting things along the way.

Part of that was discovering a potential less expensive process for treating winery waste water that both city and port officials feel is worth researching.

The port and city are working together to jump start the revitalization of Columbia Drive between the cable bridge and the causeway to Clover Island. Officials want to attract and nurture small wineries that will produce wine at Columbia Gardens, the six acres of port-owned land in the middle of Columbia Drive that used to be Beaver Furniture and the dilapidated Chieftain Apartments.

Officials hope providing waste water treatment will help attract that wine production to the development.

That less expensive option would include some pretreatment at the winery, but would leave the rest for the city’s waste water treatment plant to do, said Cary Roe, Kennewick’s public works director. The pH level would be adjusted to neutral and some of the suspended solids would be screened out of the waste water.

The city would then remove the rest of the suspended solids at the waste water treatment plant, as well as treating the nutrients, he said.

Officials met with winemaker Charlie Hoppes and toured his Richland facility, where he produces about 35,000 cases of wine for multiple labels, including his own Fidelitas Wines. Hoppes treats his facility’s waste water by screening it, then pumping it into tanks, adding baking soda, and mixing it to bring the pH level to neutral, Roe said.

A similar pretreatment option at Columbia Gardens could cost less up front and mean lower maintenance and operational costs for the city, Roe said. The port also would not need to build a building to encase the treatment system.

The pretreatment system could be underground in a parking lot area and would be easily expandable, according to city documents.

Wineries would then end up paying based on how much they discharge and how much it needs to be treated, Roe said. Most of the treatment needs are during crush.

The full-blown option the city initially pursued would do all of the treatment on-site before the waste water gets to the city’s plant. The water would nearly meet the city’s discharge standard before ever entering the plant, Roe said.

The designed system would treat up to 160,000 cases of wine. But Roe said officials believe 50,000 cases would be more reasonable.

The full-blown, complex treatment system likely would cost more than the 9 to 10 cents a bottle that wineries would be willing to pay, Roe said. That would mean some of the cost would need to be subsidized for the project to be competitive.

The city already had spent $120,000 of the $800,000 budgeted to design the full-blown option, Roe said. It may have cost more than what the city had budgeted to actually build it.

The city instead has spent $19,000 to determine whether the pretreatment option is feasible and cost effective. Roe expects to return to the city council with a recommendation for the waste treatment system in the next two months.

The port can’t finish the site design until the treatment option is chosen, said Larry Peterson, the port’s director of planning and development. Port officials still hope to start construction this summer on three buildings, two that will be home to boutique wineries and tasting rooms and one that will be shared barrel storage.

Demolition efforts already have begun to clear the way for the new buildings. Piles of material from the demolished buildings and concrete slabs still need to be removed from the site.

The city’s 900 feet of improvements along the north side Columbia Drive between Beech and Elm streets will be done in coordination with the port’s construction project. The city plans to add low water use landscaping with underground irrigation, an 8-foot-wide meandering concrete sidewalk, a new transit bus stop pull out and decorative light poles. Construction likely will begin in the summer and end in the fall.

The city also is moving forward on its commitment to finish the trail near Duffy’s Pond. That will mean a permeable asphalt path that is 10 feet wide with a two-foot gravel shoulder. The city will extend the path by about 975 feet. Officials hope to award a contract for the project in March so construction can begin in April and end in June.

The Columbia Gardens project will not be finished in time for crush this year. The buildings likely will be ready in February 2016, Peterson said.