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Posted on Dec 11, 2019

Port and city develop plan for wastewater

Food processors in Quincy may eventually sell their discharge water to farmers to irrigate crops.
The city of Quincy and the Port of Quincy are in talks about what to do with wastewater from food processors, Quincy City Administrator Pat Haley said. The city has been treating the food processors’ water and then discharging it into the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation’s canal. But bureau of reclamation staff have said that will no longer be allowed to occur as of September, 2022.
“It is actually cleaner than the water that is in the canal,” Haley said. “But it is not agriculture water, it is industrial water, which those downstream are fearful that the discharge of industrial water could jeopardize their classification for permitting (purposes).”
The city has spent the last 10 years trying to figure out a solution, he said. People considered discharging the water into the Ancient Lakes region or trying to get staff at the bureau of reclamation to change their mind about discharging it into the bureau’s canal by proving the discharge water is clean.
Recently, the city and the port have developed a third option, Haley said, land application. The idea is that food processor’s wastewater could be sold to farmers to be placed onto agricultural land.
“You can take wastewater and let the ground treat it,” he said. “In other words it gets clean as it goes into the ground.”
One problem with this solution is that if the water is not treated at all, it cannot be used for consumable foods, like potatoes or corn, Haley said. Farmers can only grow crops that humans won’t consume, like alfalfa.
In order to make the plan feasible, the Port of Quincy would take over responsibility of the discharge water, he said. It would then build a pipe from where the city collects the discharge water, south of Road 9 Northwest — north — past the railroad tracks, past irrigation lines and to the non-irrigated fields.
The food processors would bear the cost of building the pipe, Haley said.
The benefit of this plan is the food processors can receive a portion of the revenue from selling the water to farmers to help recover the cost of building the pipe, he said.
“That is beneficial to (food processors) in a couple ways,” Haley said. “One that opens potential development for agriculture growth up there, they may come in and be a customer (for the food processors). Number two that gets them out of the Department of Ecology permitting process, so they never have to worry again about not being able to discharge their waste stream.”
The difficulty that the food processors run into with this plan is that irrigation only occurs about three or four months out of the year, he said.
“These food processors are working 12 months out of there,” Haley said. “Where is that water going to go then? They’re going to have to build a big reservoir to keep it.”
The port and the food processors will need to build a percolation pond capable of storing one billion gallons of wastewater during winter months, he said. It will be equal to the size of 1,514-Olympic-sized swimming pools.
“It is just a massive project, but it is finally at a place where the Port of Quincy says, ‘Okay we’ll step up and do it,’” Haley said.
The project may take longer than the September 2022 deadline the bureau of reclamation gave the city, he said. But staff at the bureau of reclamation have said that if the city starts to make progress on their plans, they are willing to push out that deadline.

By Tony Buhr