With a unanimous vote members of the Washington State Senate approved Senate Bill 6027 to help the City of Sunnyside return clean, cool water to the Yakima River. The bill’s sponsor, state Sen. Jim Honeyford, says his bill would provide access to low interest loans for a project vital to the community’s continuing economic growth.

“Agriculture and food processing are essential to the economic viability of our region,” said Honeyford, R-Sunnyside, after the bill’s passage. “My constituents, their businesses, workers, and families will all benefit from enhanced economic development made possible by this wastewater-capacity expansion. It will be a strategic investment for our region.”

In Honeyford’s hometown the Port of Sunnyside operates several lagoons in which process water is treated. Honeyford says the port is converting land it purchased near the Yakima River to wetlands; the funding ability authorized by his bill may help construct a pipeline from the treatment lagoons to the new wetlands.

“Water that will go through the new project's wetlands will meet all Department of Ecology standards, and will aid in the development of fishery activity,” Honeyford added. “It will help stabilize the soil around the wetlands and – because it will be cooled before it returns to the Yakima River – will help encourage the development of fish and wildlife.”

SB 6027 authorizes the state Department of Ecology to provide loans to publicly owned industrial wastewater treatment facilities that relieve a city of the burden of processing industrial wastewater. The Port of Sunnyside deals with the water discharge from 16 local industries and cleans that water in its treatment plant.

The bill now goes to the House of Representatives for consideration.