Wilderness gurus will find the most innovative part of Columbia’s new Bass Pro Shop outside its doors.
Shoppers geared up for Bass Pro’s March 31 opening will be lured inside by rods, kayaks and ammo. Many of the store’s customers, though, will unknowingly drive directly past one of the most important facets of the site’s design.
Storm-water management systems conceived by Columbia-based Allstate Consultants are under construction in and around the parking lot at Bass Pro. Allstate engineers have been working since 1997 with landowner Centerstate Properties on plans for the lot near the intersection of U.S. 63 and Vandiver Drive. The underground water filtration systems, which are being constructed by Phillips Grading, are the first of their kind to be built in Columbia. Officials at Allstate and the city of Columbia’s Public Works Department said they anticipate aspects of these storm-water systems to be used in other local construction projects.
The systems seek to address issues of both water quality and quantity. Because cars can leak everything from antifreeze to oil, parking lots are rife with pollution. When rain washes these pollutants from lot surfaces, they can end up in the city’s storm-water system. In the case of the Bass Pro parking lot, polluted runoff could find its way into nearby Hinkson Creek.
Allstate is addressing storm-water management in several ways. First, Bass Pro Shop decided to expand an existing lake on the store’s north side to act as a retention pond.
“If you consider it a water quality and quantity device, that’s the standard we’re used to around here — a lot of retention ponds,” said Brian Harrington, Allstate’s project engineer. “I think you will see that increase over the next few years, people using that kind of tried-and-true technology.”
In front of the pond, which will also be used for fishing demonstrations, is a trench filled with gravel and layers of sand. At the bottom of the trench, which acts as a filter, is a perforated pipe to collect the filtered water. The pipe runs into the lake.
Another trench runs parallel to U.S. 63 in front of the store. The trench, which looks like a roadside ditch, is at the base of the naturally sloping parking lot, a location that will allow water to run into the trench. The parking lot’s curb has notches every several feet to allow water to flow into the trenches.
Once water filters through to the pipe, it will be carried away to a storm-water box and into the city’s storm-water system.
“That’s essentially what a water treatment plant will do to clean up drinking water, is use sand filters,” said Pat Fitzgerald, a supervising engineer with the Public Works Department.
The system will also feature two sand filter basins on the southwest side of the building. As part of those filters, a concrete basin will collect trash. Runoff water will filter through topsoil, sand and finally gravel before finding its way to the perforated pipe and away from Bass Pro.
The city of Columbia, the federal Environmental Protection Agency and the Missouri Department of Natural Resources have intensely scrutinized the project, as has Allstate’s own environmental compliance coordinator, Erin Daugherty. The site was most recently inspected by an outside group on Dec. 23.
“DNR did an inspection on site responding to a complaint filed by someone who had driven by on (U.S.) 63,” Daugherty said. “They came out and did an inspection and told us the site was 100 percent in compliance. So, our most recent scrutiny has been a pat on the back.”
The complaint was anonymous and regarded silt fences, a DNR spokesman said. The DNR report listed no major problems with erosion or runoff. The report indicated that no follow-up was needed.
The EPA investigated the site in July. Neither the city of Columbia nor Allstate has received the results of that report, according to Daugherty and Mike Symmonds, a Public Works engineering aide.
The groups involved in building the parking lot, though, are exceeding city requirements with their filtration systems, Symmonds said.
“A lot of the stuff they did is not required for plan approval,” he said.
Harrington gave credit to Bass Pro for surpassing the city’s expectations.
“Bass Pro is a very proactive organization,” he said. “They had a lot of interest in seeing that the water quality goes above and beyond what the standards in Columbia are. I think that’s what their mandate was.”
Increased costs were incurred, however, as a result of the filtration systems. Ron Shy, owner of Allstate, estimated the parking lot’s costs to be at least 20 percent to 30 percent more than on a site without the threat of storm-water runoff.
While the technologies Allstate is implementing are not new, they are to Columbia. Much of the inspiration came from the group’s work with both sanitary sewer plants and water plants.
“Really, storm-water technology is kind of a takeoff from that in a lot of ways because you’re treating for different pollutants, but a lot of the technology that’s developed for treating those types of waste can be applied here with the filtration,” said Harrington, who has been with Allstate for 12 years.
Fitzgerald thinks similar storm-water projects will take off in Columbia.
“These are just the things that we will be doing in a couple years’ time that they’re already doing ahead of time here,” he said.