Cape Co. commissioners will consider runoff ordinance

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Cape Girardeau County commissioners today will review a proposal for rules to control runoff from new developments.

In a meeting set for 9:30 a.m. at the Osage Community Centre, 1625 N. Kingshighway, the commission will be presented with a proposed ordinance that requires developers to make sure their construction projects don't worsen the impact of flash floods.

The purpose of the ordinance, said Stan Murray of the Cape Girardeau County Soil and Water Conservation District, is to protect residents from increased upstream runoff.

"What brought this back to the front burner was that MoDOT was interested," Murray said. "They had situations with water over roads that hindered traffic and caused delay or denial of emergency services."

The county currently doesn't have rules for controlling runoff.

When grass or woodlands are replaced by concrete and buildings, the natural process that absorbs and slows runoff is disrupted. The proposed ordinance doesn't target every piece of new construction, but sets rules for when developers plan the construction of three or more homes in a subdivision or a commercial building 5,000 square feet or larger.

When a new development is proposed, the ordinance would require a storm-water plan that includes an evaluation of current runoff and plans for managing rainwater during and after construction.

While construction is underway, developers would be required to take steps to control erosion and sediment entering streams. A completed construction project would have to include methods for slowing runoff so that it does not exceed the runoff released from a particular location during a major thunderstorm. The proposal uses a storm that is likely to recur once every 25 years as a standard.

"Downstream property, watercourses, channels or conduit shall not receive stormwater runoff from proposed development at a higher peak flow rate than that which existed prior to development," the proposed ordinance states.

The proposed ordinance is the result of months of work involving discussions with city engineering staff from Cape Girardeau and Jackson, the Missouri Department of Natural Resources, the Southeast Missouri Homebuilders Association and others, Murray said.

In the past year, flash floods have inundated parts of Gordonville and sent water into the streets around Hubble Creek in Jackson. Cape Girardeau's worst flood problems have been solved by a $40 million project on Cape La Croix Creek and Walker Branch.

The ordinance is designed to keep the problems along Hubble Creek from growing worse and to prevent sediment from filling the work done in Cape Girardeau, Murray said.

Commissioners interviewed Wednesday said they haven't reviewed the proposed ordinance in detail. "This has been an on-and-off issue for several years," Commissioner Jay Purcell said. "We need to be proactive and look at some kind of plan."

Something simple

When commissioners asked for a proposal, they emphasized that it needed to be easily understood and easy to implement, Presiding Commissioner Gerald Jones said. The county has limited staff to enforce such rules, he noted, because the county has few restrictions on land use.

"The standards have to be brief because we don't have anyone to go around and enforce this," Jones said. "If you set the rules, you have to go out and do the work."

The proposal is a response to complaints from residents upset over runoff from development projects, he said. Most developers are respectful of their neighbors, he said, "but out in the county we had several who would not put up any kind of retention barriers, and mud would wash into neighbor's yards. Boy, would I get calls."

rkeller@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 126

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: