The nation’s largest water bottling plant could go up in Anacortes, Washington. The Anacortes City Council voted Monday on a key provision in the process towards bringing in some sort of new manufacturing facility. KUOW’s Sara Lerner reports.
A company called Tethys already has a contract with the city. The Skagit River provides water for Anacortes and the contract says Anacortes may provide Tethys with up to 5 million gallons of water per day. That’s for a million square foot facility.
That amount of water sounds high because it is high: that’s 20 times what the old Rainier brewery in Seattle used for production.
But first, Tethys wants to buy some land -- and that’s where the city provision comes in. It’s over an application to convert an 11-acre parcel from rural reserve to urban growth area. Tethys would then buy the land.
Anacortes City Councilmember Ryan Walters brought the lone vote against that resolution last night. He says that’s because of the bigger implications that come with bringing in such a large manufacturing facility.
“There are land use impacts," Walters says. "There’s train and truck traffic impacts that we’re concerned about. We’re concerned about where it’s going next to an important salmon restoration area and heron area, one of the largest heronries on the west coast."
Walters: "None of those land use impacts can be mitigated when we don’t know exactly what it is they’re going to build and where they’re going to build it. And that’s why a lot of us have been asking for more information before we write the blank check.”
Anacortes Mayor Dean Maxwell says more manufacturing means more money for people in Anacortes and the Skagit Valley. He cites an economic study conducted last year.
“It would be $2.5 million that would go into the school system. About $900,000 would go into the city’s coffers to support general fund: police, fire," Maxwell says.
Maxwell: "These are difficult budget times so in order to be able to have a sustainable community, we need a revenue source. Anacortes needs that manufacturing base in order to be sustainable.”
Councilmember Walters says that study is useless because it’s based on numbers provided by Tethys.
The report estimates Tethys would bring in $2.5 billion a year in gross income.
That is difficult to estimate since Mayor Maxwell also says he’s not certain what the potential plant will actually make. The contract says it will focus on beverage and food manufacturing.
The mayor says it could also be a business park with various types of production. If it is water bottling, then it would be the largest or one of the largest in the country.
Now, the land use application is in the hands of Skagit County and the jury’s still out on whether Anacortes will soon see a massive new manufacturing facility.
Copyright 2012 Northwest Public Radio