Quick Clarifications

You received a postcard to notify you about proposed changes to the City of Pittsburgh’s Zoning Code (Title 9) and Stormwater Management Code (Title 13), because your property is within an area with specific stormwater management requirements under Allegheny County’s Act 167 Watershed Plan, likely the Monongahela or Girty's Run watersheds. This means that water that falls onto your property eventually drains into the Monongahela River or Girty's Run. See below for map of watersheds.

These requirements were currently housed within the Zoning Code (Title 9) but we are proposing to relocate them to the Stormwater Management Code (Title 13) in order to keep most stormwater-related regulations in a single section of code. This relocation of Act 167 language consists of a ‘map amendment’ per the Zoning Code and thus requires us to notify all properties in the affected area. The map boundaries include areas within the Monogahela River, Girty’s Run, and Squaw Run watersheds. Map boundaries are not changing.

The stormwater regulations of Title 13 apply to developments that disturb 10,000 square feet or more of earth, or create 5,000 square feet of new impervious area. In the Riverfront Zoning and Uptown Public Realm Districts, the threshold for stormwater requirements will remain at 5,000 square feet of disturbance.

This means the average homeowner/residential project will not be subject to the stormwater requirements proposed in this code.

Since the requirements of the stormwater management code (Title Thirteen) apply to projects that disturb 10,000 square feet or more of land, or create 5,000 square feet of new impervious area (for instance, paving a 50 x 100 sq. ft. area that was previously grass), the majority of homeowners will not be doing projects that trigger these requirements. For projects that hit those thresholds, development options are not restricted, there are just specific requirements for managing the stormwater on-site.

The major changes to Title Thirteen, the City's Stormwater Management Code, being proposed are:

  • Requiring the use of a new model for stormwater calculations that will take climate change projections specifically for Pittsburgh into account.
  • Incentives for innovative approaches to stormwater management.
  • Establishment of Public Health and Safety Release Rate Areas, to create higher standards in areas known to flood.
  • Creation of a two-step stormwater management plan approval system.

The Title Nine changes that went before Planning Commission and are recommended for approval at City Council include:

  • Relocating code language from Title 9 to Title 13 in an effort to consolidate all stormwater-related regulations.
  • Elimination of the Small Project Stormwater requirements in RIV and Uptown Zoning Districts.
  • Increased thresholds for rainwater performance points in those two zoning districts.

This is a separate project from the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority's (PWSA's) proposal for a stormwater fee program. You can find information about that project here.

You can find the proposed code changes here, or by clicking the PDFs in the "Document Library" on this page.

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Martina Battistone

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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.

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 Martina Battistone, Principal Environmental Planner at the Department of City Planning, at martina.battistone@pittsburghpa.gov James Stitt, sustainability manager at PWSA, at JStitt@pgh2o.com.