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Kennewick wine dreams won’t be slowed by sewer snag, city says

Columbia Gardens is an economic development initiative of the Port of Kennewick. The port acquired land between the Columbia River and East Columbia Drive as part of efforts to reconnect Kennewick to the river.
Columbia Gardens is an economic development initiative of the Port of Kennewick. The port acquired land between the Columbia River and East Columbia Drive as part of efforts to reconnect Kennewick to the river.

Kennewick’s Columbia Drive wine village hit a snag this month when it received only one bid for a critical sewage treatment system.

The city of Kennewick will re-bid work on a wastewater treatment system for Columbia Gardens Urban Wine & Artisan Village after the lone bid came in at nearly twice the amount engineers expected.

Banlin Construction, which is building Columbia Gardens in the 300 block of East Columbia Drive, bid $435,000 to build a wine effluent treatment system that officials hope will drive jobs to downtown Kennewick.

That’s $178,000 more than city engineers said the tank-based system should cost. The city council rejected the bid and intends to re-advertise the job after reaching out to more prospective builders.

Evelyn Lusignan, the city’s spokeswoman, said it remains confident the original $257,000 estimate is reasonable. A busy construction season means contractors may not have bid because they have other work.

No date has been set to re-bid the project, which will reduce the acidity levels of wine-related effluent at Columbia Gardens before it is discharged into the city’s sewage system where it could cause costly problems. The delay shouldn’t affect the overall project schedule, said officials.

Banlin fell behind schedule earlier this year when harsh winter conditions prevented it from completing some outdoor work. It completed some tasks indoors, but the snow pushed the overall schedule back by several weeks.

Tenants Bartholomew Winery and Palencia Winery both remain committed to moving in, but the delayed opening means they won’t be ready to produce wine at the location this fall as originally planned. The effluent treatment system isn’t needed until that happens, probably in 2018.

At an event this week, Victor Palencia said he intends to open as a retail shop and tasting room. He could begin bottling later this year, he said.

Kennewick’s effluent system is akin to West Richland’s new $3.1 million industrial wastewater treatment plant, “I-Plant” for short.

The I-Plant was designed to boost economic development by offering the winery and similar industries a built-in system to manage effluent. It went online last fall and has helped the city attract producers such as Pacific Rim Winery and Double Canyon Winery, which is owned by California-based Crimson Wine Group.

Bartholomew and Palencia both plan to produce wine in Kennewick, but at lower volumes.

Regardless of scale, wine effluent carries heavy nutrient loads and high acidity that can damage municipal sewage treatment systems. Wine waste is the wastewater from production and does not include waste flushed down toilets or sink drains. Pre-treatment is key to keeping wastewater systems humming.

Columbia Gardens is an economic development initiative of the Port of Kennewick. The port acquired land between the Columbia River and East Columbia Drive as part of efforts to reconnect Kennewick to the river.

City support includes the effluent treatment system, sidewalks and economic development dollars. Benton County allocated rural economic development dollars and Columbia Basin College has preliminary plans to build a culinary school on the site in a future phase.

The project won kudos this week when the state department of Commerce presented the partners with a 2017 Partners award from Gov. Jay Inslee.

A spokeswoman for the college said school officials are surveying local businesses to determine what they’re looking for in a culinary school and are discussing how the program can dovetail with culinary offerings at Tri-Tech Skills Center. The final report will be presented to CBC’s president before being forwarded to the foundation.

The foundation will lead efforts to raise the $10 million needed to build the school in a later phase of Columbia Gardens. If it proceeds, the school will be CBC’s first significant venture in Kennewick.

Wendy Culverwell: 509-582-1514, @WendyCulverwell

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