Clean water funding supports upgrades at Pasco facility

Ecology's Clean Water Grants and Loans program helps communities upgrade and expand their wastewater treatment facilities. Through our competitive funding program, we've committed approximately $53 million dollars to support the City of Pasco's upgrades to their Process Water Reuse Facility. This facility is unique in that it takes wastewater from companies that process food and purifies the water (using algae) so it can be used in other ways. In other words, it is a water recycling facility! Recycling water reduces the burden on the city's municipal wastewater treatment plant and helps protect water quality in the Columbia River. Also, the facility creates biofuels, ultimately decreasing greenhouse gas emissions. 

The many benefits of a water reuse facility

The Pasco facility holds process wastewater in large storage ponds during the winter and uses fields during the spring, summer, and fall as a land treatment system to recycle the water back into the land. It’s estimated the facility currently treats more than a billion gallons of water annually. Ecology's funding will help expand the winter storage ponds, allowing more businesses to send wastewater to the facility.

Algae Processing Technology at Pasco treatment Facility

Green house containing the Revolving Algal Biofilm (RAB™) System that helps purify the wastewater.

In addition to the expanded ponds, the City is also investing in pretreatment improvements at the facility, including new headworks, two new 35 million-gallon low-rate anaerobic digesters, and a rotating algae biofilm system to help remove nitrogen and phosphorus before the wastewater is sprayed on the land treatment fields.

Once upgrades are complete, the facility will turn other waste products into new resources. This includes capturing and selling the natural gas generated by the new anaerobic digesters, which will help offset the costs of the upgrades. The city also intends to look for commercial opportunities with the algae harvested from the system. This upgraded system will help better manage nutrients in the wastewater, meaning that the city will use less water on the land treatment system, protecting groundwater. 

“Treating industrial wastewater rich in BOD and Nitrogen is normally seen as a challenge," said Michael Henao City of Pasco Environmental Compliance Coordinator. "This is an opportunity to complete the industrial symbiotic loop by providing treatment to local industries, producing renewable natural gas and algae-based fertilizer, removing CO2 from the atmosphere, and closing the loop by providing water for agriculture use.”

Supporting the local economy and clean water

Our funding supports the design and construction of the improvements to Pasco’s Process Water Reuse Facility, which represents one of four phases of improvements planned for the facility. The total project is estimated to cost $180 million and the City is receiving support from other state funds and processor investments and bonds. 

“The City of Pasco is thankful for the continuous support Ecology has provided to transform this vision into a tangible reality through their funding awards. This project is a testament to the power of collaboration in shaping a sustainable future," said Maria Serra, City of Pasco Public Works Deputy Director.

The food processing businesses that rely on the City’s facility for treatment employ between 1,200 and 1,500 people and support countless more jobs. This an incredible example of how technology can help make our lives more sustainable. Not only does the City of Pasco benefit from reusing the water but it helps the environment for years to come.  

Every year we announce our funding list for more clean water projects. We'll announce the next draft funding offer list in early 2024, where you can find out if a clean water project in your community is on the list!