Although it has a large price tag -- $12.2 million to date, according to the Klickitat County Public Works Department -- the new sewer plant in Dallesport appears to be a wise investment.
It's a big long-term public health boost for residents of the area, who will no longer have to rely on individual septic systems for sanitation. And industrial property in the Dallesport area represents what is probably Klickitat County's best opportunity for significant economic growth.
The Port of Klickitat owns 660 acres of prime industrial land on the Dallesport peninsula. With the sewer plant coming on-line, the Port may now be able to move its business recruitment efforts into high gear there.
Dianne Sherwood, the Port of Klickitat's executive director, noted that the Port has received inquiries from companies seeking as much as 50 acres of land to build on. Of course, there's no guarantee they will choose to locate in Dallesport, but one thing is clear: Without the sewer system, those companies were basically cost-prohibited from moving to Dallesport.
Dallesport offers a unique list of attractions to prospective industrial tenants, and chief among these are the transportation options. Companies that need to bring in raw materials or ship out finished products will discover that Dallesport has it all: quick and direct access to a major east-west route in Interstate 84 and a north-south route with Highway 197; a rail spur off Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway's east-west mainline; and even a barge dock on the Columbia River.
Options like that provide flexibility that keep shipping costs low, and it's rare to see any one location with such a strong transportation package. That feature can help to lure companies.
Further, the Dallesport Industrial Park is less than a mile from the airport in Dallesport. That means business owners could commute to work in their private aircraft -- a distinctive benefit.
With the sewer plant nearly completed, there is a greatly improved possibility that new businesses may locate in the area. That could translate into a number of new jobs.
As Klickitat County Commissioner Don Struck recently said, the sewer plant in Dallesport is "the final piece of the puzzle" for the area.
The sewer plant project has been in the works since 1997, and a lot of individuals and entities have worked long hours to see it through to completion. Included in the list are the Klickitat County Board of Commissioners, state politicians, employees of the county's Economic Development Department and Public Works Department, and state and federal funding agencies that helped cover a good portion of the project's expenses.
Despite its daunting cost, the plant should bring benefits to Klickitat County in years to come.