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Port officials decide against D.C. trip

Port of Sunnyside officials had been looking at traveling to Washington D.C. in May to make a face-to-face pitch to local representatives to help secure additional money for a wetlands habitat project.

"We were contemplating whether it would be beneficial or not," said Port of Sunnyside Manager Amber Hansen.

Hansen said it was decided after talking with her contacts in Washington D.C. that there was no reason for port officials to make the trip, as everything that could be done was being done to try and secure money for the wetlands project.

"It just needs to run its course," said Hansen.

The port and Army Corp of Engineer officials have been working together to try and establish a wetlands habitat on 220 acres on South Emerald Road and Murray Road. The port finished the purchase of the land last year.

"It is very appropriate for what we want to do with it," said Hansen of the land for the port project.

Part of the reason the port wants to construct the wetlands habitat is to help get rid of its water from its industrial wastewater facility.

The water from the port's industrial treatment plant would be piped to the wetlands area. The wetlands area would serve as a natural filter for the treated water that is released from the industrial wastewater treatment plant. Hansen said utilizing the wetlands area to help further treat the wastewater from the plant is something that has been proven to work for years.

"Wetland habitats are and have always been a proven treatment," said Hansen.

The wetlands area will also help provide water for the Yakima River. The project will have a benefit for the fish in the Yakima River. Hansen said the treated water from the plant that goes to the wetlands area will eventually make its way to the Yakima River. The water will be cooled, which will help offset the sometimes hot temperatures that hurt the fish population.

"The idea is it will have a cooling benefit," said Hansen.

The port and the Corps of Engineers were awarded a $233,000 federal grant last year, of which about $155,000 was able to be accessed for a feasibility study for the wetlands project. Hansen said officials are now trying to secure an additional $1.5 million with the help of Congressman Doc Hastings and Sen. Patty Murray to finish the design phase of the project. Hansen said if the $1.5 million is able to be obtained, officials will be able to complete all the needed work that will allow the project to go out for bid.

Hansen said she is looking to have the wetlands project completed by either the end of 2006 or the end of 2007.

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