Stormwater Management

The City’s development codes provides standards for addressing stormwater run-off from private developments and limitations on paving to ensure both aesthetic quality in our neighborhoods and a comprehensive approach to water management.  These standards are found in several different places within the City's Building Code and Comprehensive Zoning Ordinance (CZO) and this page is intended to provide a snapshot of those standards. For the full regulations, please follow the links provided to review the text of the Building Code's Stormwater Regulations and CZO

Additionally, there are a number of other regulations and resources that citizens should be familiar with as plans are made for property improvements. The Department of Safety and Permits serves as the City’s Floodplain Administration, which is responsible for ensuring that development meets or exceeds the elevation standards provided by FEMA’s Flood Insurance Rate Maps and Chapter 78 of the City Code.  To find out more about living with water and the City’s Resilience Strategy, you can look through the Office of Resilience and Sustainability’s website.

A number of private organizations also provide information, and in some cases financial support, for reducing the overall amount of paving on private property, which directly helps the City manage rain events and storm water runoff entering the pumping system.

Stormwater Management for Development

New Orleans’ understanding and relationship with water has changed dramatically over the decades and its water policy has improved with it. We now know that living with water will be paramount to the City’s future success. As the City has learned more about this relationship, through publications like the Greater New Orleans Urban Water Plan, published in 2013, the City has worked tirelessly to implement aggressive stormwater management requirements for new developments and redevelopments including the City’s Resilience Strategy, ResilientNOLA, released in August 2015, which adopted the urban water plan and committed the city to investing in comprehensive and innovative urban water management.

The City has also worked to include requirements to assist in the development of a resilient New Orleans by encouraging sustainable practices for site design, construction and maintenance. The regulations help reduce urban runoff and mitigate the effect of new development, redevelopment, or infill development on the existing drainage system. They also ensure the preservation of permeable surfaces and require the installation of stormwater BMPs to slow surface flow of stormwater runoff and promote filtration, plant uptake, absorption, and infiltration into sub-soils to reduce subsidence rates.

The City is also a co-permittee under the permit for Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (“MS4”) discharges. The City is obligated to comply with the Permit, including the implementation of a Stormwater Management Plan or equivalent, which requires Best Management Practices (“BMPs”) for all construction activity, good housekeeping practices, and post-construction BMPs for development projects.

City of New Orleans Stormwater Code

In March of 2018, The City of New Orleans officially replaced Article 23 of the Comprehensive Zoning Ordinance (CZO) with a new unified Stormwater Code located within Chapter 1, Section 121 of the Building Code. The new code contains requirements to protect the City’s drainage system during construction, as well as post-construction stormwater management requirements for some projects.

Construction Requirements

The new code requires that all contractors working within the City of New Orleans must provide erosion and sediment control on sites where ground is disturbed; and provide catch basin protection for any adjacent facilities. Further requirements apply to the washout of concrete trucks, and other onsite protections.

Post-Construction Requirements

These requirements apply to any new development or redevelopment, aside from single-, two-family, or residential properties with less than six (6) dwelling units, that is five thousand (5,000) square feet or more of impervious surface, or a total site area of one (1) acre or more. It requires that the plan retain or detain, and filter the first one and one quarter inch (1.25”) of stormwater runoff during each rain event and limit the post-development runoff rate.

What is the process?

  1. Upon submission of a building permit, the Department of Safety and Permits (DS&P) will determine whether a stormwater management plan is required.
  2. Once an application is submitted, Stormwater Review staff will deem the application complete based on the submittal requirements and review the application for compliance with the standards in the Stormwater Code.
  3. Once a plan is approved the building permit will be issued.
  4. After construction is complete, the designer will submit as-built drawings of the stormwater BMPs and connections. Once approved, the owner will record the as-built drawings with the 25% performance bond with the Notarial Archives and the Office of Conveyances.
  5. Stormwater features are subject to biennial inspection and recertification in perpetuity.

Who can design a stormwater management plan for a site?

A Professional Engineer or Landscape Architect, licensed in Louisiana is required.

To find a registered landscape architect licensed by the Louisiana Horticulture Commission, please visit: http://www.ldaf.state.la.us/ldaf-programs/horticulture-programs/louisiana-horticulture-commission/

To find a registered professional engineer licensed by the Louisiana Professional Engineering and Land Surveying Board (LAPELS), please visit: http://www.lapels.com.

​What is required to submit an application for review?

​Fee in Lieu

The stormwater management standards contained in the Stormwater Code are intended to encourage development that is environmentally functional, economically viable, and aesthetically pleasing. They are not intended to inhibit creative development. It is acknowledged that conditions may arise where normal compliance is impractical or impossible and project conditions associated with individual sites may justify approval of a payment of a fee-in lieu of compliance with the standards. Applications for payment of the fee are subject to the approval of the Director of the Department of Safety and Permits and must meet the following standards:

  1. Stormwater management within the site is achieved to the maximum extent feasible; 
  2. The cost of materials, construction, and maintenance that would be required to comply on site; and
  3. The topography, soil, vegetation, drainage, spatial limitations, unusually shaped pieces of land, unusual servitude requirements, or superseding regulatory requirements are such that full compliance is impractical.

For guidance on submitting a fee-in lieu application, please contact stormwater@nola.gov.

Lot Coverage Regulations

The Comprehensive Zoning Ordinance (CZO) provides limitations on how much yard area can be covered with "impermeable" materials (such as concrete or asphalt) as well as regulations on how much total area of a lot is required to remain "permeable," meaning that it does not have paving or buildings on those areas. The table below provides a snapshot of these regulations, full district-by-district requirements can be found at czo.nola.gov.

Zoning Category Maximum
Impervious Surface  in Front-Yard
Maximum
Impervious Surface  in Corner Side-Yard
Minimum Permeable Open Space
Historic Core Residential Districts(HMR-1, HMR-2, HMR-3)     15% of lot area
Historic Core Non-Residential Districts
(HMC-1, HMC-2, HU-MU)
    15% of lot area
Historic Urban Neighborhood
Residential Districts

(HU-RS, HU-RD1*, HU-RD2,
HU-RM1, HU-RM2)
40% of front-yard 40% of corner side-yard 30% of lot area
Garden District
HU-RD1
30% of front-yard 30% of corner side-yard 30% of lot area for lots ≤ 40’ in width; 40% of lot area for lots > 40’ in width.
Historic Urban Neighborhood
Non-Residential Districts

 (HU-B1A, HU-B1, HU-MU)
    10% of lot area
Suburban Neighborhood
Residential Districts

(S-RS, S-RD, S-LRS1, S-LRS2, S-LRS3,
S-LRD1, S-LRD2)
40% of front-yard 40% of corner side-yard 40% of lot area
Suburban Neighborhood
Residential Districts

(S-RM1, S-RM2, S-LRM1, S-LRM2)
    40% of lot area
Suburban Neighborhood
​Non-Residential Districts

(S-B1, S-B2, S-LB1, S-LB2, S-LC)
    20% of lot area
Suburban Neighborhood
Non-Residential Districts

​(S-MU)
    40% of lot area
Commercial Center &
Institutional Campus Districts

(C-1, C-2, C-3, MU-1, MU-2)
    20% of lot area
Commercial Center &
Institutional Campus Districts

(EC, MC, MS, LS)
    30% of lot area
Centers for Industry
(LI, HI, MI, BIP)
    20% of lot area

Stormwater Resources

Below are some resources for assistance and information about stormwater initiatives in New Orleans: