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Port's wetlands project makes Ecology's funding list

The Washington Department of Ecology has announced that $162 million has been earmarked for loans and grants for clean water projects around the state, including more than $3.4 million in a low interest loan for the Port of Sunnyside's wetlands project.

Water quality funding provided by Ecology comes from a combination of dedicated state and federal monies. Of the total, $135 million comes from the Washington State Water Pollution Control Revolving Fund. The loan to help finance the wetlands project in Sunnyside will come from the revolving fund.

Ecology also gets $25 million from the state Centennial Clean Water Program, which is a grant program funded through state bonds, and $1.6 million from the federally funded Clean Water Section 319 Nonpoint Source Fund.

Ecology received 88 project proposals and has proposed funding 72 of them. The port's wetlands project is the only one located in the Lower Valley, but Yakima County will also see funding for enhancement of Cowiche Creek and restoration of the ecosystem of part of the Yakima River near the city of Yakima.

The $3,410,162 for the Port of Sunnyside's wetlands project includes funding for both the wetlands itself and the pipeline that will take water from the port's wastewater treatment plant to the wetlands area. The project is already receiving $5 million in funding from the Army Corps of Engineers as well as funding by the port itself.

"The Ecology loan helps to bridge the gap in financing," said Sunnyside Port Project Development and Property Manager Jed Crowther. "We're grateful that Ecology has seen the benefit (of the wetlands project) and provided that financing tool."

The loan to the port will have a 20-year term at 2.3 percent interest rate. Of the total loan, $250,000 may be forgivable because it is part of a "green project" category.

All of Ecology's water quality funding is contingent on the final state budget.

Ecology will be taking public comments on the selected projects until 5 p.m. on Wednesday, March 20. Comments may be e-mailed to Daniel Thompson at daniel.thompson@ecy.wa.gov or mailed to Department of Ecology, Water Quality Program, P.O. Box 47600, Olympia, WA 98504-7600, Attn: Daniel Thompson. More information can be found at Ecology's website at http://ecy.wa.gov.

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