Port eyes sewer system for Burbank

The idea, which is in its infancy, could result in piping waste to Pasco for treatment.

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The Port of Walla Walla is exploring the logistical groundwork of a new sewer system in Burbank, including a ground-breaking partnership with the city of Pasco for wastewater treatment.

Port Executive Director Jim Kuntz said the idea is "very preliminary and may never come to fruition" at the Port's regular meeting Thursday. However, he and commissioners Mike Fredrickson, Paul Schneidmiller and Ron Dunning reviewed a possible proposal to present to Pasco City Manager Gary Crutchfield.

The draft framework outlines a 75-year agreement, a maximum flow of 300,000 gallons per day and a payment system structure where the Port would collect fees from local users and then be solely responsible for paying Pasco.

Kuntz was unanimously authorized to present the proposal to Crutchfield for discussion. Commissioners anticipate the planning, construction and development of the Burbank Business Park as a long-term project.

"This is going to be a long work in progress," Schneidmiller said.

A sewer system is the latest piece in the development of a multi-phased Burbank Business Park. Adjacent to U.S. Highway 12, two barge slips and rail served by BNSF Railroad, the Port property features truck access, potable and fire suppression water, and electrical and natural gas services.

A wastewater treatment system would complete the puzzle for an area ripe for additional industrial and mixed-use development, officials say. The site is already home to Harris Rebar and Westway Feed Products, among others. It's also the future home of a Cascade Pallet, a pallet company relocating from the Tri-Cities. But as development takes place in an additional 112 acres zoned for light-industrial and mixed-use, other potential tenants could include everything from a hotel to miscellaneous retail to business services.

Kuntz said partnering with Pasco would not only demonstrate multijurisdictional cooperation, it would also save at least $2.5 million in construction of a sewer system.

He said the cost of building a wastewater treatment plant is $4.5 million. The cost of a 40-inch sewer line under the Snake River would cut that expense down to $2 million, Kuntz said.

Additional fees includes capacity costs based on use; maintenance costs; and a one-time $5,000 construction oversight fee. Preliminary sewer treatment fees would be determined by taking Pasco's current usage charge per residential unit -- about $25 per month -- plus a 60 percent surcharge for the out-of-county service.

Burbank Business Park tenants would be the primary users. But residents, schools and other users would have the option to hook into the system, Kuntz said.

Vicki Hillhouse can be reached at vickihillhouse@wwub.com or 526-8321.

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