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Cole County's proposed stormwater ordinance could be approved as early as next week.

At the County Commission meeting Tuesday morning, public works held the final public hearing on the final draft of the Cole County stormwater ordinance.

No public comments were provided, setting the ordinance up for approval at the next commission meeting.

The stormwater ordinance has been in development since 2017 and would help address issues created by unregulated stormwater runoff and pollution as the cities developed.

In effect, the ordinance would require Jefferson City and St. Martins to manage stormwater runoff coming from any development larger than one acre to prevent issues for downstream properties, like putting in measures to regulate stormwater volume and quality.

Eric Landwehr, Cole County director of public works, said he plans to present the ordinance to the road and bridge advisory board Thursday to see if its members had any concerns, but that's the last stop.

"Assuming everything goes according to plan, we'll be back next week, and we'll do the final adoption," Landwehr told the commission.

If concerns are raised, Landwehr said, he would expect the ordinance to still be presented to the board within two weeks as the goal is to have it adopted before the end of the year.

In a recent audit of Cole County's stormwater program, the Missouri Department of Natural Resources raised concerns about the ordinance not being in place.

DNR requires the county to have an ordinance in place to manage stormwater runoff and pollution in urbanized areas.

Jefferson City and St. Martins are Cole County's only urbanized areas as defined by census data.

The county is using 2010 census data to define urbanized areas after the 2020 census data was delayed because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

After talking with community members and stakeholders, Landwehr said, the proposed ordinance also includes a one-mile buffer area around the county's urban areas.

"That's where the development is occurring and that's where the development could have the most severe impact to neighboring communities," Landwehr said.

The county's urbanized areas can also be updated with the latest census data, which would likely add Wardsville to the list.

The ordinance would require developments to have stormwater detention to control the volume being released into natural streams and have long-term pollution prevention plans.

To address pollution, urbanized areas will have to be able to detect and eliminate pollutants, like hazardous material, raw sewage and other contaminants.

Cole County currently requires stormwater detention and monitors for pollutants. The ordinance will provide regulatory authority and keep the county in compliance with the state.

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