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New port building sees water snag

Facility could end up sitting vacant for a while

With a possibly deficient amount of water for fire suppression at Bingen Point, the Port of Klickitat's new 25,000 square foot building under construction could end up sitting vacant for a while.

That concern was brought up at the July 1 meeting of the Bingen City Council, and city officials are exploring ways to help the Port of Klickitat address the issue in a way that also benefits the citizens of Bingen.

Mayor Brian Prigel pointed out that the water line on the east end of Bingen has bottlenecks that impede the flow of water to Bingen Point.

"There is a 10-inch line coming down from the reservoir that connects to a six-inch line somewhere near the Big River Diner," Prigel explained. "The Port of Klickitat property has an eight-inch line, and the Port's eight-inch line takes off from the six-inch line."

Prigel explained that because of the inefficiency, the Port is having trouble meeting requirements for its sprinkler system for the new building.

"The county wants assurance there will be adequate fire flow," Prigel said. "It's one of the reasons why this is a pressing matter."

The new Bingen Point building will allow for expansion by The Insitu Group, which recently signed a new contract with Boeing (see story on Page 1). The facility is supposed to be completed by the end of September.

Mike Wellman, the city's engineer, said the "10-6-8" pipeline configuration was hampering water flow.

"The Port has 1,300 gallons a minute available now, but 1,500 is the basic requirement," Wellman said. "Long-term, the Port will need a looped line to feed water from two directions. It's a big project to get fire flow up to what is needed for an industrial area."

Officials in Klickitat County's Building Department said there could be a delay in permitting occupancy if the necessary level of water couldn't be reached.

"We issued the building permit, but we're waiting for results of fire flow tests. Those are all conditions of the permit," said Skip Grimes, the county's lead building official. "We're unable to issue a certificate of occupancy to use the structure until issues are addressed satisfactorily. We're charged with making sure people are safe, and when it comes to industrial buildings, we have to protect the occupants. Jobs are very important, but the safety of those people is even more important."

However, on July 8, Port of Klickitat Executive Director Dianne Sherwood said a new fire flow test came up with a "tentative" rating of 1,660 gallons per minute, well over the requirement.

"That amount of pressure is very good news," Sherwood said, although she added that the test results have not yet been finalized. "It looks like we certainly have everything we need."

The testing was conducted on July 3 by Hydro-Tech Fire Protection, Inc., of Brush Prairie. Hydro-Tech is a consultant working to install the sprinkler system for the Port's new building.

With an aging six-inch water line currently in place between Pine Street and Big River Diner -- and with the area already torn up and waiting for new sidewalks to be poured as part of the State Route 14 reconstruction project -- the city is considering taking advantage of the ongoing construction to replace part of the line.

"It's an old line, and shallow -- only three inches below the surface in some places," Wellman pointed out. "It's got some problems. I'd hate to put sidewalks in and have to go back five years from now. That would be terribly expensive."

Wellman said he had contacted KLB, the general contractor working on the highway project, to determine what it would cost to put in new pipe.

"We're going to look at what it would take to upgrade the water line. The opportunity is there while we're working on the roadway," Wellman explained. "This improvement would boost it enough to get the 1,500 gallons required for the Port."

Prigel proposed placing new 10-inch pipe from Pine Street to Big River Diner, a two-block stretch where the sidewalks have not yet been poured.

Prigel pointed out that there would be benefits to Bingen residents as well as the Port of Klickitat.

"All the houses out that way currently have a substandard supply of water," Prigel said. "This is not only for the Port's future, but for the next 50 years of growth in that area."

A stretch of six-inch pipe would remain in place beyond the restaurant.

Although he said he had not yet heard any numbers from KLB, Wellman roughly estimated that the cost of the project would be about $80,000.

City Council member Terry Trantow said he believed it made sense to do the work now.

"Because otherwise, we'd be tearing up the sidewalk and paying to put it in twice," Trantow explained.

"There is money [in the city's water reserve fund] to pay for this, but it will significantly reduce our reserve fund," said Jan Brending, Bingen's clerk/treasurer.

Council member Laura Mann asked why the Port couldn't contribute to the project, since it would directly benefit Port property.

Sherwood said later that she would be willing to seek a grant to help with the project, but was unsure what other assistance the Port could provide.

"I would certainly be willing to seek grant funds or have a joint application with the city for a grant," Sherwood said. "But the Port has already put in all the infrastructure on our own property at our own expense. For the Port to actually contribute funds to a system we don't own, I'm not even sure that's legal."

Members of the Bingen City Council agreed to authorize the mayor to determine whether the pipeline work can be done for a "reasonable price" -- no more than 10 percent beyond the $80,000 estimate provided by Wellman.

"If KLB can't do that, we'll go to our Small Works Roster to move ahead in that fashion," Prigel said.

The vote was 3-0 to approve the motion.


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