Stormwater Code & Ordinance Review and Update (SCORU)

About The Stormwater Management Code Update Process:

Together, the Department of City Planning and Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority (PWSA) are leading a process to update City ordinances and create a unified City Stormwater Management Code, alongside a consultant team led by AKRF. The process will include technical analysis, stakeholder engagement, and expertise to review and evaluate all applicable regulatory and municipal stormwater policies, processes, and codes for consolidation and improvement options across agencies. The goal is to develop an implementable revised Code, supporting policy and process recommendations, and guidance materials aligning with other important City initiatives regarding green stormwater infrastructure, complete streets, and resiliency. Another goal is to clarify development requirements and make the stormwater review and approval processes easier and more efficient for applicants.

The project is broken into tasks as follows:

  • Task 1: Technical Analysis
  • Task 2: Creation of Unified Stormwater Code
  • Task 3: Process Improvement Recommendations for Stormwater Plan Reviews, Permitting, and Enforcement
  • Task 4: Internal Policy Updates
  • Task 5: Outreach and Stakeholder Coordination

These updates will help to better meet the stormwater management demands posed by increasing urban development and increasing rainfall. Good stormwater management is necessary to ensure the health and safety of citizens as well as stable environmental and economic conditions via improved water quality, reduced flooding, and co-benefits of green infrastructure.

Additionally, municipal stormwater management requirements are necessary for compliance with federal and state mandates. The City undertook the first round of code updates, which went into effect in March of 2019, in order to comply with Pennsylvania Act 167 and the Allegheny County Model Stormwater Management Ordinance. However, it was understood that more comprehensive analysis, community engagement, and additional recommendations were needed for the consolidation and improvement of municipal stormwater policies, processes, and codes.

Impacts on the Zoning Process and Approval

The current stormwater management regulations can be found in Title Thirteen: Stormwater Management and in various sections of Title Nine: Zoning Code, with some related regulations in Title Ten: Building Code. Stormwater management plans are generally required for projects with land disturbance greater than or equal to 10,000 SF or the creation of 5,000 SF or greater of impervious area. There are additional requirements or limitations in certain areas of the City via environmental overlay districts or stormwater management overlay districts and in specific zoning districts such as Riverfront or Uptown.

Upon intake of development applications through the Zoning & Development Review Division and OneStopPGH, stormwater management plans are reviewed by environmental planning staff in City Planning and engineers at the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority. By improving ordinances, review processes, policies, and guidance material, stormwater management City-wide can be improved to create clearer, more user-friendly codes for developers and designers. Based on recommendations resulting from input, analysis, and expertise through this project, regulations and processes will likely change.

These updates will not affect current projects but will affect projects submitted after the new code is adopted. Information will be posted on this site and changes will be advertised to applicants in advance of the implementation of new requirements.

In accordance with the Public Engagement Guide, this project has developed a Stakeholder Engagement Plan to guide engagement and explain how input will be used to generate code updates and recommendations.

This is a highly technical process that will not directly impact most citizens and the intent for the general public is to inform them of the work and project goals. For stakeholders and agencies more directly involved with stormwater management, the intent is to consult with and involve them in the update process to ensure broad support from the people who will be most impacted by code changes.

While a representative group of stakeholders has been selected, any person or group who would like to be more involved may reach out to the project team and request to be included in technical meetings and discussions. Additionally, surveys related to stormwater management will be posted on this website for anyone to complete in the coming weeks and months. This will help us to better understand the needs of City residents and make recommendations accordingly.

For any questions or to get involved with the Stakeholder Advisory Group, email Kara Smith, principal environmental planner at the Department of City Planning, at Kara.Smith@pittsburghpa.gov or James Stitt, sustainability manager at PWSA, at JStitt@pgh2o.com.