By Tiffany Sukola, April 22, 2014, Columbia Basin Herald
Construction has begun on the Port of Moses Lake’s wastewater facilities expansion project, a move that will allow the port to accommodate an anticipated increase in industrial water runoff.
Vancouver-based Rotschy Inc., began moving dirt on the project last week. Crews will be constructing a 30-million gallon storage lagoon, installing pipelines to connect nearby facilities to the lagoon and upgrading the current lift station and irrigation pump station.
The new lagoon is being built next to the existing 27-million gallon storage pond on the port’s Northwest corner.
Construction on the $2.6 million project is expected to be completed by the end of November.
Port Executive Director Pat Jones said the original wastewater facility was constructed in the late 1990s. The port was trying to bring a company into the area at the time that would be discharging a large volume of industrial water, he said.
The city couldn’t accept the water, so the port moved forward with construction on its own wastewater facility. Jones said the city and county both contributed to that project.
The two agencies were also instrumental in making this expansion happen, he said. The county previously committed to allocating funds for the project over a 20-year period. The accumulation of the funds, along with contributions from the city and some of the facility’s users, made financing the expansion possible, Jones said.
For years, the original facility worked as planned. Industrial wastewater made its way from the users to the storage pond until growing season, when it would be applied to two half-circles.
However, as the port gained more industrial tenants, the volume of wastewater runoff naturally increased. Jones said the port soon saw the need to expand their wastewater facilities.
Current users include Chemi-Con, Moses Lake Industries, the U.S. Forest Service, SGL and Genie. However, SGL has since expanded and added another plant building and new tenant AstaReal is set to start their operations soon, he said.
“With this growth, we needed to expand,” Jones said. “We have to accommodate this.”
Port commissioners also saw the need to expand and authorized them last year to move ahead with essentially doubling the current system, he said.
Besides the addition of the 30-million gallon pond, the port plans on acquiring more land to apply the wastewater to. Port Facilities Director Rich Mueller said they are currently in the process of getting that land, two more half-circles, from the Bureau of Reclamation.
Jones said the expansion is an important project to undertake, as it will help the port accommodate future tenants as well.
“It’s critical to our ability to recruit industrial employers,” he said. “These companies have to do something with their wastewater.”
Jones said when companies look at locating in an area, they look at what systems are in place for them to get rid of their wastewater. Sometimes, the requirement for a disposal system is at the top of their lists, he said.
“Low cost of power and access to labor is important, but water disposal is just as important,” said Jones