COLUMBIA — The employees of the Columbia Environmental Research Center can look forward to consolidating their nine buildings and working with state-of-the-art equipment when a new aquatic research center is finished.
Ground was broken Friday morning at the site of the new center, 4200 New Haven Road. The Columbia Environmental Research Center is part of the U.S. Geological Survey. Its mission is to conduct the necessary research to address environmental contaminant issues and changes in habitat on aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems.
Construction of the 23,800-square-foot building costs $10.7 million and is largely paid for by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.
“The center had targeted, almost six years ago, the need for the new facility, but the funding was unavailable,” said Rip Shively, the center’s director. “We started to save for the new building six years ago, but it would not have been possible without the (American Recovery and Reinvestment) legislation.”
The new facility will include space for testing on heavy metals, saltwater capabilities, a state-of-the-art wet lab facility and environmental chambers for experiments.
The construction project will also include renovations to outdoor aquatic research facilities.
Some of the ponds have silted over and are no longer functional, Shively said.
“This project will renovate these facilities and give us new life on some ponds,” he said.
Consolidating the nine smaller buildings will save an estimated $200,000 in facility and energy costs, Shively said.
Construction is estimated to finish by September 2011.