Wastewater pre-treatment recommended for Columbia Drive wine village

A recommended waste treatment proposal for the Port of Kennewick’s wine village project on Columbia Drive will require a change to Kennewick municipal code but could make it easier for winemakers to thrive at the development.

Cary Roe, Kennewick’s public works director, made the recommendation during the city council’s Tuesday night workshop for a pre-treatment system for Columbia Gardens that would connect to the city’s waste treatment plant. It would cost between $300,000 and $400,000 compared with the $1.3 million for a full waste treatment facility that was initially planned.

The city and port would still have to work out details of the arrangement. City council members, as well as port commissioners who met earlier in the day, raised questions, but Roe and port officials said the new pre-treatment option is the best way forward.

“We can’t tune up the site until we know where the effluent is going,” said Larry Peterson, the port’s planning and development director, at the port’s Tuesday afternoon meeting.

The port and city began working together on the wine village project, located on port-owned property on Columbia Drive between Clover Island Drive and Highway 397, several years ago. It was planned to open for its first crush this past fall but the development stalled, partly out of an interest in finding a more cost-effective way to treat wastewater from the wineries.

The latest proposal calls for a system to treat the waste for its pH only before sending it through a sewer line to the city’s treatment facility to remove solids and other contaminants.

“It’s a more efficient way of treating those elements,” Roe said.

Municipal code would have to be adjusted to allow the city to charge the wineries at the village a fee for sending their waste to the city for final treatment. That could cost roughly between 4 cents and 8 cents per bottle, a rate Roe said makes the development a viable option for those businesses.

Port commissioners had asked what would happen to the $800,000 they already pledged if a less expensive method is used. About $100,000 already was spent to start designing a full treatment facility for the development that may now no longer be built.

Councilman Bob Parks asked if wastewater from the wine village would be treated any differently than effluent coming from similar businesses, such as Ice Harbor Brewing Company in downtown. Roe said he wasn’t sure but that effluent from a winery is more intense, and state regulators are likely to prefer seeing similar pre-treatment approaches in the future.

Parks also wanted to know what would happen if the city built the pre-treatment system, but it took longer to bring wineries to the site.

Roe told the council, as Peterson told the port commission earlier in the day, that a lot of those issues would need to be worked out in agreements between the two entities, hopefully by mid-fall. That’s about when the city would need to adapt municipal code for the project as well.