Port commissioners approve partnership with federal agency for wetlands project

At last night's special Port of Sunnyside meeting, the next steps in the Ecosystem Restoration Project were established.

Commissioners held a special meeting in order to discuss action to approve the Corps of Engineers project partnership agreement. The unanimous vote to approve the partnership for design and construction of the wetlands area will aid in moving the project closer to its finish date.

Nearly a decade ago, Port of Sunnyside commissioners began to work towards a more sustainable route to bring waters back to the Yakima River. With last night's decision, the Corps of Engineers, a federal agency made up of civilian and military personnel serving as an engineering, design and construction management agency, is now officially a partner with the Port of Sunnyside for the wetlands project.

As the agreement states, the Port of Sunnyside is responsible for 35 percent of the project costs, which reaches about $1.9 million, while the Corps of Engineers is putting up nearly $5 million towards the project. The federal financial support comes through Section 206 of the Water Resources Development Act, with $4,830,000 of federal funds currently projected to be available for the project.

What began nearly 10 years ago could see its finished product in the not so distant future. The project site is located approximately five miles southwest of Sunnyside, on the east side of the Yakima River and west of Emerald Road.

The Port of Sunnyside's property, development and project manager, Jed Crowther, says the project, once complete, will provide additional capacity for existing industries to grow and present the opportunity to attract new industry to the area.

"The project will strengthen water resources of the Yakima River Basin and maintain sound environmental stewardship," he added.

The partnership puts this project in the running for congress to decide the timing for funds distribution. Congress projects the approval of funds for sometime tentatively in the coming year.

According to Port of Sunnyside officials, if all goes according to schedule construction could proceed and be completed as early as 2013.


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