The Port of Sunnyside held a BBQ Thursday to honor Sunnyside's industries and to thank people who have helped with its wetland habitat project.
Port of Sunnyside President Arnold Martin told the gathered crowd that industries in Sunnyside have a very positive effect on the area. "Industries in Sunnyside have a combined yearly payroll of $30 million," he said. "They pay property taxes in excess of $2.5 million a year."
Dave McFadden, president of New Vision, said for every $1 of goods manufactured in Sunnyside, there is $1.30 of spin-off benefits to the area. He also said the average wage of industries in Sunnyside are 40 percent above other businesses in the area.
Mic Mackey of PW Eagle echoed these remarks.
"We have one of the best port districts in the area," he said. "If it wasn't for the continued growth of our port district, we wouldn't be here."
PW Eagle was the second industry to come to Sunnyside and their products are sent all over the world. Mackey said PW Eagle makes about 45 miles of pipe per day. They buy from local businesses and keep three local trucking companies busy hauling their products.
Martin said there were 12 industries in Sunnyside that deliver their industrial waste water to the port.
The port collects this waste water, discharged from Sunnyside's food processing industries, and treats it at its sequencing batch reactor. Once the water is cleaned it is stored in a 40-acre storage lagoon. The port uses this water to irrigate 300 acres of land the port grows alfalfa on. This hay is then sold to local dairies in the area.
Eventually this water will be used to provide water for a planned wetlands project.
The Port of Sunnyside has acquired more than 200 acres adjacent to the Yakima River on South Emerald Road outside of Sunnyside. Their plan is to create a wetlands project using the clean waste water.
The project is currently in the feasibility phase and it's 35 percent complete. Martin said the study should be complete by the end of this year and, if it's proven to be practical, the engineering and construction of the wetlands should be finished in three to four years.
At the BBQ the port also honored politicians who have helped with this project.
"Doc Hastings has been instrumental in working to get funding through congress," said Amber Hansen, Port of Sunnyside manager. "Through his efforts he's secured $333,000 for the Army Corps of Engineers for this project."
Hastings thanked the port for all its done. "I think there will be a lot of economic development in Central Washington and the Port of Sunnyside will be a large part of it," Hastings said.
State Representative Bruce Chandler said, "There is nothing more crucial to the Yakima Valley than water. The port of Sunnyside has been a leader in getting better use of the water in the area."
The project goals for the Sunnyside Wetland Project is to create wetland, upland and riparian habitats and to recharge the ground water back to the Yakima River.
Not only will the industrial waste water grow crops and create a wetlands, it will also help the environment.
With 4 million gallons of water a day going through the wetlands, the water will also drain back into the Yakima River. This will help cool the water during the summer months and raise the level of water. The cooling effect will be good for the salmon when they make their runs.
Other politicians that were thanked by the port yesterday were U.S. Senator Patty Murray, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell, State Senator Jim Honeyford and State Representative Dan Newhouse.
The wetlands project will offer an environmentally sound way to put industrial waste water back in to the river.
"It will allow us to process more water and will allow industries to process more food," Hansen said.