Army Depot Land May Tap Into Umatilla’s City Sewer System

Pronghorn antelope roam the Umatilla Chemical Depot in 2006.

The local agency that will oversee the Umatilla Army Depot’s industrial lands is exploring the option of hooking into the City of Umatilla’s wastewater treatment facility.

Greg Smith, the Columbia Development Authority’s Executive Director, told the Umatilla County Planning Commission in May that the CDA is trying to figure out its options. After 20-plus years working with the Army, they are close to completing a land transfer between the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) office and the CDA. The CDA is comprised of the Port of Umatilla, Umatilla County, Port of Morrow, Morrow County and the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation.

Smith said that east portion of the property is referred to as the Interstate Industrial Park. They anticipate that portion of land will receive more than $6.5 million to develop transportation infrastructure coming off of Interstate 82, creating a new off ramp and industrial road.

The Planning Commission was asked to consider a recommendation to authorize under the Statewide Planning Goals, extension of sewer service from one urban area, the City of Umatilla, to an area that has already received Goal 14, Goal 3 and Goal 11 Exceptions. Those exceptions were authorized in 2014 when the Depot Master Plan was prepared. The hearing was intended to provide an option for the CDA. Until the CDA knows what kind of industrial development will take place, it doesn’t know what the wastewater will look like.

Smith said the CDA and State of Oregon have discussed the various options. The state has expressed that creating their own wastewater system is the least favorable option. They have encouraged the CDA to reach out to local communities to create a sewer hookup. This is why the CDA has reached out to the City of Umatilla, as it appears to be its best option. The negotiations with the City of Hermiston are their back up plan, in case the City of Umatilla was unable to accommodate their request.

Smith said there is no waste treatment option on the property at this time. He anticipated a transportation package will be approved in Salem that will include a large investment in a road project. They will have the opportunity to leverage those dollars and create a freshwater option to handle the wastewater that comes with it.

If the application were to be approved, sometime down the road, the city of Umatilla will be required to apply for a Conditional Use Permit for a Utility Facility. At that point, the Planning Commission would review the design aspects and identify exactly where pumping stations will be located and how to mitigate impacts. Smith stated that the CDA plans to do whatever they can to work closely with Umatilla County to be sure they do everything correctly along the way.

The city of Umatilla’s wastewater treatment plant was built in 2001 and has more than enough capacity to serve the area. In preliminary planning, more than 70 percent of the sewer line between the depot and city would be in a public right of way and four feet underground. There will be a requirement that no additional hookups between the city of Umatilla and the depot would be allowed to the sewer system without going through another goal exception process to approve that action.

In a 7-0 vote, the Planning Commission recommended approval of the CDA exception to Statewide Planning Goal 11, Text Amendment #T-17-073, to the Board of County Commissioners.