Bass Pro Shops wants to use its Columbia store to teach people more than just how to fish — it wants to teach them about water quality.
In the midst of controversy over land-disturbance permits in the polluted Hinkson Creek watershed, Bass Pro Shops is promising that its Vandiver Drive store will protect the creek and be a model for other developments in the watershed. And it’s backing up those claims by planning to use several storm-water management techniques in construction and to put an interactive water-quality education center at the store.
The center, which will include displays both inside and outside the store, will inform visitors about water quality and about the microscopic aquatic life and history of Hinkson Creek, company spokesman Martin MacDonald said.
“This fits into the sort of things that we do,” MacDonald said.
Despite Bass Pro Shops’ guarantees that it will protect the watershed, the company on Friday was still waiting for a land-disturbance permit from the Missouri Department of Natural Resources before construction could continue.
The DNR has delayed 27 construction permits in the Columbia area for fear that further development could harm Hinkson Creek, which has been considered impaired by unknown pollutants since 1998. While 18 of the delayed permits have been granted in the past few weeks, nine — including one for Bass Pro Shops — remain on hold.
Construction had begun on the Bass Pro site before the DNR told the development team it didn’t have the necessary state permit. Bryan Fawks, regional deputy director of DNR’s Water Protection and Soil Conservation Division, said last week that the agency is holding the Bass Pro Shops permit until it can clarify water-quality protection plans for the site.
Other than that, Fawks said, Bass Pro Shops’ land-disturbance plan is “in good shape.”
The two sides might already have worked out problems. MacDonald said Wednesday that Bass Pro Shops and the DNR were “virtually in agreement” about the plans and that engineers from Allstate Consultants made small changes to the plans before resubmitting them Wednesday.
Chad Sayre, of Allstate, said Thursday those water-quality plans include several innovative storm-water management techniques that will protect Hinkson Creek, both during and after construction.
First, construction company Centex Rooney will clear the site slowly to prevent dirt from spilling into the creek. It will also help prevent erosion, Sayre said.
Bass Pro Shops also wants to enlarge a lake on the site and use it not only for retaining and filtering water, but also for fishing. That approach is unique, Sayre said, because while some development sites use lakes just to collect an array of pollutants, Bass Pro Shops wants to clean the water before it reaches the lake and make it safe for teaching children boating safety and fishing techniques. That’s something the store has never done before, Sayre said.
The company also plans to hire a street sweeper to clear large debris from the store’s parking lot and to use a sand filtering system to stop oil, sediment and grease from running off lots into Hinkson Creek.
The plan also calls for layers of grassy swales, berms, ponds and landscaping that will slow down and filter storm-water runoff.
“It’s going to be interesting to test them as far as maintenance costs in our Missouri climate,” Sayre said.
He estimated the initial cost to the developer of all those measures would probably total $200,000 to $300,000.
Bass Pro Shops thinks the cost is worth it, MacDonald said, adding that the company wants to protect Hinkson Creek at all costs, no matter how long it takes to clarify things with the DNR.
“We want to err on the side of water quality with them,” MacDonald said.
MacDonald said the company hopes to hear from the DNR about its permit by next week. Construction will begin as soon as the permit is granted, and the store is slated for a November opening, MacDonald said.
“The team’s ready to go, we’re just waiting for the gun to sound,” he added.
He said the delay hasn’t put anyone from Centex Rooney out of work because the winter weather would have delayed construction anyway.