USGS Opens New Research Center in Columbia
COLUMBIA - Research scientists, employees from Columbia's Environmental Research Center and even the advance choir from New Haven Elementary School gathered on the grounds of a new research building on Wednesday.
Employees from the U.S. Geological Survey Columbia Environmental Research Center (USGS) cut the ribbon on the research center. It is named in memory of former director of Columbia's USGS Richard Schoettger, and is dedicated to researching water pollution in the Great Lakes and major river systems.
The federal government funded the $12 million building through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Director of USGS Marcia McNutt said building the research center provided 200 new jobs in Columbia.
The new research center is equipped with a new wet laboratory for exposure of contaminants in water, and a toxic element laboratory. The lab is also stocked with energy efficient tools to help save money. Employees said they expect the center will save about $200,000 overall. McNutt said the center is a great addition to Columbia because most of the leading water pollution researchers work in the Columbia area, and needed updated working laboratories.
"When the government had the opportunity to invest funds through the ARRA, USGS jumped at the opportunity to provide a new state of the art building for this very important science," McNutt said.
Although environmental pollution affects many people, McNutt said many people in the community do not believe water pollution research is important. She said large river and lake systems are essential to the U.S.
"The fish and other species that live (in the water) are important for creating clean water and a clean eco-system that creates the clean environment that we count on," McNutt said.
Employees at the ribbon cutting were pleased with the turn-out of the event. Ron McMillan, technical services contractor for Columbia's USGS branch, said he was not expecting many people to show.
"It's great to see the community out here. It's great to have their support," McMillan said.