Burbank’s new $6.8 million sewer system is operational. Now the economic development projects can begin.
Two irrigation supply distribution businesses are already interested in building warehouses in the Burbank Business Park now that the park has sewer service, said Port of Walla Walla Executive Director Jim Kuntz.
Two existing convenience stores in Burbank will relocate to the area near a roundabout off Highway 12, Kuntz said.
Lessening Burbank’s reliance on septic tanks will decrease the amount of nitrates getting into the Snake and Columbia rivers, said port Commissioner Mike Fredrickson.
It will also allow for smaller lots to be built, which will let the unincorporated community create a “downtown concept,” with businesses like a coffee shop and insurance office.
“The stuff you would find in most neighborhoods,” Fredrickson said.
During a dedication ceremony Wednesday, Kuntz showed renderings of a town center area between Jantz Road and Highway 12 that could include shops on the first floor, with second-floor housing. The idea still needs approval from Walla Walla County commissioners.
The streets would have wide sidewalks and tree-lined streets, Kuntz said.
“We are all but there, so now it is all about quality development,” he said.
The sewer project involved building 17,715 feet of sewer line, some of it tunneled 45 feet below the bottom of the Snake River. Speakers Wednesday recounted some of the trials that led to the celebration.
Jake Hollopeter, vice president for contractor Anderson Perry & Associates of Walla Walla, credited Apex Directional Drilling of Portland with getting the 6-inch pressure pipe drilled under the river.
“There were a lot of challenges with getting that project done, but they persevered,” he said. “We’ve got to give a lot of credit for that because it could have been a disaster.”
The port in 2012 agreed to pay Pasco for 100,000 gallons of daily sewer capacity. Sewage is pumped from two newly built lift stations across the river to Pasco.
Among the first customers was the Columbia School District, which has relied on nine septic tanks.
The sewer service has the capacity to serve the entire Burbank urban growth area. Fredrickson said homeowners would have to get together in groups to justify the cost of extending sewer lines to private residences.
The sewer improvements were paid for with the help of $3 million from the state Department of Ecology. They come on the heels of a $5.4 million investment in a water system for Burbank, Kuntz said.