Cities build wine waste treatment plants to lure wineries

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By Sean Bassinger

Even the sweetest wine has waste.

That’s why two Eastern Washington cities have invested in special wastewater treatment facilities to handle wine effluent.

It’s not a glamorous piece of the wine industry, but it’s a critical part of a continued multimillion-dollar effort to draw more wineries to the Tri-City area.

The $3.2 million West Richland industrial wastewater treatment plant, known as the I-Plant, opened before last year’s first crush. It treats all the effluent before any remaining waste gets processed through West Richland’s sewer system.

It’s an expensive business and relieves wineries of building their own expensive on-site pretreatment facilities without taxing the municipal wastewater treatment plants.

Kennewick’s smaller wine wastewater treatment facility at the Columbia Gardens Wine Village won’t be as visible as West Richland’s. The city will have a room for the controls and to monitor the effluent wastewater process, but the tank itself will be underground.

The city of Kennewick is working on the installation as well as street improvements that include sidewalks, lights and additional work on the scenic nature trail by Duffy’s Pond near Columbia Gardens.

“The city’s commitment was to do that so we could attract wineries to that area,” said Evelyn Lusignan, public relations and government affairs director for Kennewick. “We were initially looking at full on-site treatment.”

But the city and Port of Kennewick, which is developing the wine village, decided it would be much cheaper and efficient to just account for the first wineries coming in.

“It’ll be significantly less than the $800,000 that we initially budgeted,” Lusignan said.

So far, they’ve spent about $200,000 for the engineering and all the work to date.

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