COLUMBIA — The Columbia Environmental Research Center is planning a $7 million overhaul of its labs and offices in southeast Columbia.
The U.S. Geological Survey in Columbia researches the effects of water quality on aquatic organisms and river science, said Michael Mac, the center's director. The effectiveness of these studies will be improved with more adequate facilities, he said.
“If successful, this will be a huge upgrade to our system,” Mac said. “It will be a big boom to our science productivity.”
Research is currently housed in buildings that were constructed throughout the late 1960s and '70s. Under the proposal, nine of these buildings would be consolidated into the new center.
The USGS is hosting an informal open house with exhibits on the project at 7 p.m. Wednesday in the center’s conference room at 4200 New Haven Road.
Chief inorganic chemist Thomas May said his area of research would be improved by the new building because of more room for instrumentation and equipment such as fume hoods for processing environmental samples.
In addition to the new center, the funds would allow for the renovation of 25 research ponds. The ponds currently have asbestos piping that needs to be replaced. The renovation would also change the size of the ponds, allowing for research to be more standardized and replicable.
The library at the research center is in an area that floods and the project would relocate the library and provide a proper drainage system.
Martin Smith, project manager of the USGS, said the proposal is still in the “preliminary planning stage.” If approved, the funds would come from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
“This stimulus money is really the perfect storm when we badly need to replace buildings,” Mac said. “We are so grateful.”