Inspectors from the Environmental Protection Agency last week scrutinized eight area construction sites, including the Bass Pro Shops on Vandiver Drive.
Inspectors Lorenzo Sena and Margie St. Germain visited the sites to ensure developers are sticking to federal standards for storm water management.
Sena said the sites, which included both commercial and residential developments, were selected after he and St. Germain, who inspect sites throughout Missouri, Nebraska, Kansas and Iowa, drove through Columbia on July 7 and noted potential problems with some sites. Developers were contacted and their properties inspected the next day.
Though he declined to say what he saw at the sites, Sena did say the inspectors were looking to make sure storm water management tools such as berms, silt fences and detention basins were working properly and in the right places.
“The facility has to have controls in place,” Sena said. “We check for accuracy and look at their plans if they have them available.”
Sena said developers were given a list of changes to make, but he declined to say what was on those lists.
Pat Fitzgerald, an engineer with the city’s Public Works Department, accompanied the inspectors to some of the sites and said he thinks the inspections went fairly well.
“There were some that were really pretty good and some that had some problems because of the rain we’ve had recently,” he said.
Fitzgerald said the inspectors wanted to ensure developers had been doing their own inspections of erosion-control measures every week. When they saw problems, Fitzgerald said, the EPA inspectors walked to the creeks nearby to see if storm water was draining into them. They also took photos of the sites.
“What they’re really concerned about is the creeks,” he said.
Martin MacDonald, spokesman for Bass Pro Shops, said the inspectors were pleased with what they saw on the store’s site and “suggested no changes.” He added, however, that there might have been some problems with the larger Centerstate Crossings development that surrounds Bass Pro.
Curtis McDonald, the developer driving the Centerstate project, could not be reached for comment. A representative of Centerstate’s engineering firm, Allstate Consultants, did not return calls Monday or Tuesday.
EPA spokesman Martin Kessler emphasized that Columbia isn’t being singled out by inspectors, who routinely travel throughout the region to make sure developers are following the law.
Sena said once inspectors assemble their report, it will be turned over to the EPA’s enforcement department, which will decide if there were any violations of the Clean Water Act. The report will also be shared with developers and the Missouri Department of Natural Resources.
Kessler said Columbia developers could be fined for any violations, but it’s too soon to tell what consequences, if any, they might face.
He said it will probably be 90 days before the inspection report is released.