City of Savannah


The City of Savannah, Georgia has enacted a Stormwater Management Ordinance in order to protect and maintain the integrity of local aquatic resources and, consequently, the health, safety and welfare of the general public, by establishing local stormwater management regulations that control and minimize the adverse impacts of the land development process. The City of Savannah is the permitting authority for all land disturbing activities and requires the land owner to maintain all on-site stormwater control facilities and all open space areas (e.g. parks or “green” areas) required by the approved stormwater control plan. The City of Savannah will only provide construction permits to projects that establish a plan to manage stormwater runoff occurring during the construction process. The City of Savannah, under the NPDES program, also has the authority to inspect properties for noncompliance and can issue a notice of violation (NOV) for any deficiency or infraction onsite. Property owners are responsible for the maintenance of any stormwater facilities or practices located on the property.

Savannah Stormwater Management Ordinance

Sec. 4-11004. Restrictions and limitations on the use of the city stormwater system.

The primary purpose of the stormwater system is the conveyance of stormwater and other permissible discharges as outlined in section 4-11027.

(1) No person shall discharge, spill, or dump substances or materials which are not entirely composed of stormwater or discharges otherwise exempted in section 4-11027 of this chapter into the city separate stormwater system or onto driveways, sidewalks, parking lots, streets, or other areas that discharge into the city separate stormwater system.

(2) It shall be unlawful for any person to maliciously, willfully, or negligently break, damage, destroy, uncover, deface, modify, or tamper with any stormwater structure, appurtenance, or equipment.

(3) It shall be unlawful, without prior written approval of the director, to alter in any way any part of the stormwater system including, but not limited to, rerouting, removing, deepening, widening, enlarging, filling or obstructing any part of the stormwater system including fencing easements and rights-of-way which render the system inaccessible to equipment necessary to perform maintenance and repairs.

(4) It shall be unlawful for any person to connect any pipe, open channel, or any other conveyance system that discharges anything except stormwater or exempted discharges listed in section 4-11027 of this chapter to the city separate stormwater system. Illicit connections will be disconnected and redirected to the city sanitary sewer system upon approval by the Public Works Director, at the expense of the responsible person.

(5) It shall be unlawful to increase stormwater quantity discharged to the city separate stormwater system without an accepted stormwater management plan.

Sec. 4-11008. Inspections.

The stormwater management department may inspect, survey, and monitor any stormwater facility, public or private, for reasons including but not limited to the following:

(1) To ensure compliance with an accepted stormwater management plan;

(2) To conduct sampling of any substance or parameters at any location;

(3) To investigate suspicious discharges including illicit connections and spills;

(4) To ensure all stormwater facilities are operational to the maximum extent practicable;

(5) To determine compliance with requirements of construction plans;

(6) To determine compliance with requirements of maintenance plans;

(7) The City of Savannah shall be allowed to conduct periodic inspections of the development project in accordance with applicable sections of this ordinance;

Sec. 4-11009. Powers and authority of inspectors.

The director of stormwater management and other employees of the city bearing proper identification shall be permitted to enter all properties for the purposes of inspection, observation, measurement, sampling, testing. The city reserves the right to perform emergency repairs or maintenance to any portion of any stormwater system, public or private, when the stormwater system impacts a public stormwater system.

Sec. 4-11010. Discharge violation; remediation plan.

Any action or inaction that violates the provisions of this ordinance or the requirements of an approved stormwater management design plan, land development related permit, or inspection and maintenance agreement and plan, may be subject to the enforcement actions outlined in this chapter. Any such action or inaction that is continuous with respect to time may be deemed to be a public nuisance and may be abated by injunctive or other equitable relief. The imposition of any of the penalties described below shall not prevent such equitable relief.

(a) Notice of Violation - If the City of Savannah determines that an owner, applicant or other responsible person has violated or is violating the provisions of this ordinance, or the terms and conditions of an approved stormwater management design plan, permit or inspection and maintenance agreement and plan, it shall issue a written notice of violation to said owner, applicant or other responsible person. Where a person is engaged in a new development or redevelopment activity covered by this ordinance without having first secured a stormwater management permit, the notice of violation shall be served on the owner, applicant, and/or the person in charge of the new development or redevelopment activity being conducted on the development site.

The notice of violation shall contain the following information:

(1) The name and address of the owner, applicant or other responsible person;

(2) The address or other description of the site upon which the violation is occurring;

(3) A statement specifying the nature of the violation;

(4) A description of the remedial measures necessary to bring the action or inaction into compliance with the provisions of this ordinance, or the terms and conditions of the approved stormwater management design plan, permit or inspection and maintenance agreement and plan, and the date for the completion of such remedial measures; and,

(5) A statement of the penalty or penalties that may be assessed against the person to whom the notice of violation is issued;

(6) A statement that the determination of violation may be appealed to the City of Savannah by filing a written notice of appeal within thirty (30) days after the notice of violation (except, that in the event the violation constitutes an immediate danger to public health or safety, a written notice of appeal must be filed within 24 hours after the notice of violation).

In addition, any person who is found to have willingly and negligently failed to comply with any provisions of this article and the orders, rules, and regulations issued hereunder, shall be subject to any one or more of the following actions or penalties.

(b) Upon receipt of notice of violation, the violator shall submit a remediation plan and a remediation schedule to the Stormwater Director within ten days. The remediation plan shall include immediate correction where requested, otherwise all corrective and preventative measures shall be completed within 30 days of the initial notice of violation.

(c) In the event that the remedial measures described in the remediation plan or specified in the notice of violation have not been completed by the date set forth, any one or more of the enforcement actions outlined in this ordinance may be taken against the responsible party.

(d) If, after inspection, the condition of a facility presents an immediate danger to the public health or because of unsafe conditions or improper maintenance, the City shall have the right to take action as may be necessary to protect the public and make the facility safe at the expense of the owner of the facility in accordance with this ordinance. Expenses, if charged, shall be those direct costs incurred and those expenses documented in general accordance with Chapter 7 of FEMA document P-323, Public assistance applicant handbook of latest revision. (Ord. of 12-7-1995(1), § 1)

Before taking any of the following actions or imposing any of the following penalties, the City of Savannah shall first notify the owner, applicant or other responsible person in writing of its intended action and shall provide a reasonable opportunity of not less than ten days (except, that in the event the violation constitutes an immediate danger to public health or safety, 24 hours’ notice shall be sufficient) to correct the violation. In the event the owner, applicant or other responsible person fails to correct the violation by the date set forth in said notice, the Stormwater Management Director may take any one or more of the following actions or impose any one or more of the following penalties.

  1. Stop Work Order: The City of Savannah may issue a stop work order that shall be served on the owner, applicant or other responsible person. The stop work order shall remain in effect until the owner, applicant or other responsible person has taken the remedial measures set forth in the notice of violation or has otherwise corrected the violation or violations described therein. The stop work order may temporarily be withdrawn or modified by the City of Savannah to enable the applicant or other responsible person to take the remedial measures necessary to correct such violation or violations.
  2. Withhold Certificate of Occupancy: The City of Savannah may refuse to issue a certificate of occupancy for the building or other structure constructed or being constructed on the development site until the owner, applicant or other responsible person has taken the remedial measures set forth in the notice of violation or has otherwise corrected the violation or violations described therein.
  3. Suspension, Revocation, or Modification of Permit: The City of Savannah may suspend, revoke or modify the permit authorizing the development project. A suspended, revoked or modified permit may be reinstated after the owner, applicant or other responsible person has taken the remedial measures set forth in the notice of violation or has otherwise corrected the violation or violations described therein. The permit may be modified by the City of Savannah to enable the owner, applicant or other responsible person to take the remedial measures necessary to correct such violation or violations.
  4. Civil Penalties: In the event the owner, applicant or other responsible person fails to take the remedial measures set forth in the notice of violation or otherwise fails to correct the violation or violations described therein, by the date set forth in the notice of violation, the City of Savannah may impose a penalty not to exceed $1,000 (depending on the severity of the violation) for each day the violation remains unremedied after the date set forth in the notice of violation.
  5. Criminal Penalties: For intentional and flagrant violations of this ordinance, the City of Savannah may issue a citation to the owner, applicant or other responsible person, requiring said person to appear in City of Savannah Recorders Court to answer to criminal charges for such violation. Upon conviction, such person shall be punished by a fine not to exceed $1,000, imprisonment for up to 60 days or both. Each act of violation and each day upon which any violation shall occur shall constitute a separate offense.

Sec. 4-11011. Emergency conditions.

If a condition presents an immediate danger to the public health, safety, or general welfare because of unsafe conditions or improper maintenance, the city shall have the right, should the owner not take immediate action, to make necessary corrections to protect the public and to make the facility safe at the expense of the responsible person. Expenses, if charged, shall be those direct costs incurred and those expenses documented in general accordance with Chapter 7 of FEMA document P-323, Public assistance applicant handbook of latest revision.

Sec. 4-11012. Enforcement.

Enforcement of this chapter is final unless the person submits a written request for a hearing within ten days of the notice of violation being served.

Sec. 4-11027. Stormwater Facility Inspection and Maintenance Agreement

Prior to the issuance of a permit for any new development or redevelopment activity that requires one, the applicant, or owner of the development site, if different, must execute an inspection and maintenance agreement and plan that shall be binding on all subsequent owners of the site, unless the stormwater management system is dedicated to and accepted by the City of Savannah. A sample copy of the Stormwater Facility Inspection & Maintenance Agreement is included in the City of Savannah Stormwater Management LDM. The LDM provides additional details regarding the requirement for the Stormwater Management Design Plan.

Ongoing Inspection and Maintenance of Stormwater Management Systems

Sec. 4-11036. Maintenance Responsibility

The responsible party named in the recorded stormwater management system inspection and maintenance agreement and plan shall maintain in good condition and promptly repair and restore all green infrastructure and stormwater management practices, maintenance access routes and appurtenances, including, but not limited to surfaces, walls, drains, dams, structures, vegetation, erosion and sediment control practices and other protective devices. Such repairs and restoration and maintenance activities shall be performed in accordance with an approved inspection and maintenance agreement and plan.

If the responsible party named in the recorded inspection and maintenance agreement and plan is a homeowner’s association or other owner’s association, such as a unit owner’s association, the responsible party shall submit to the Stormwater Management Director a copy of a recorded declaration that provides:

(1) That green infrastructure and stormwater management practices are part of the common elements of the development site and shall be subject to the requirements of the stormwater management system inspection and maintenance agreement and plan;

(2) That membership in the association shall be mandatory and automatic for all homeowners or unit owners of the development site and their successors;

(3) That the association shall have lien authority to ensure the collection of dues from all members;

(4) That the requirements of the inspection and maintenance agreement and plan shall receive the highest priority for expenditures by the association except for any other expenditures that are required by law to have a higher priority;

(5) That a separate fund shall be maintained by the association for the routine maintenance, reconstruction and repair of the green infrastructure and stormwater management practices, and kept in an account insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) or by another entity acceptable to the City of Savannah;

(6) That the routine maintenance, reconstruction and repair fund shall contain at all times the dollar amount reasonably determined from time to time by the City of Savannah to be adequate to pay for the probable reconstruction and repair cost (but not routine maintenance cost) of the stormwater management system for a three-year period; and,

(7) That, to the extent permitted by law, the association shall not enter into voluntary dissolution unless responsibility for the green infrastructure and stormwater management practices is transferred to an appropriate successor.

Sec. 4-11037. Maintenance Inspections

Periodic inspections of the green infrastructure and stormwater management practices shown on an approved stormwater management design plan, and subject to the terms and conditions of an approved inspection and maintenance agreement and plan, shall be conducted by staff or representatives of the City of Savannah to document repair and maintenance needs and ensure compliance with the requirements of the approved inspection and maintenance agreement and plan and provisions of this ordinance. All inspections should be documented in written reports that contain the following information:

(1) The date and location of the inspection;

(2) The name of the inspector;

(3) The condition of:

(a) Vegetation and filter media;

(b) Fences and other safety devices;

(c) Spillways, valves and other hydraulic control structures;

(d) Embankments, slopes and safety benches;

(e) Reservoirs and permanent pools;

(f) Inlet and outlet channels and structures;

(g) Underground drainage structures;

(h) Sediment, debris and litter accumulation in storage and forebay areas;

(i) Any other item that could affect the proper function of the stormwater management system; and,

(4) A description of repair, restoration and maintenance needs. If any repair, restoration or maintenance needs are found, the responsible party named in the recorded stormwater management system inspection and maintenance agreement and plan shall be notified in writing about the repair, restoration or maintenance needs and the remedial measures that are required to bring the stormwater management system into compliance with the approved stormwater management system inspection and maintenance agreement and plan, as described in Sec. 4-11027of this ordinance. In the event that the remedial measures described in such notice have not been completed by the date set forth in the notice, any one or more of the enforcement actions outlined in Sec. 4-11010of this ordinance may be taken against the responsible party named in the approved stormwater management system inspection and maintenance agreement and plan.

Sec. 4-11038. Records of Maintenance Activities

The responsible party shall make and maintain records of all inspections, maintenance and repairs, and shall retain the records for a minimum of five years. These records shall be made available to the Stormwater Director or his designee during inspections and at other reasonable times upon request of the City of Savannah.

Sec. 4-11039. Failure to Maintain

If the responsible party fails or refuses to meet the terms and conditions of an approved stormwater management system inspection and maintenance agreement and plan and/or the requirements of this ordinance, the City of Savannah, after thirty (30) days written notice (except, that in the event the violation constitutes an immediate danger to public health or safety, 24 hours’ notice shall be sufficient), may correct a violation by performing the work necessary to place the green infrastructure or stormwater management practice in proper working condition. The City of Savannah may assess the responsible party for the cost of the repair work, which shall be a lien on the property, and may be placed on the ad valorum tax bill for such property and collected in the ordinary manner for such taxes by the City of Savannah.

Sec. 4-11041. Stormwater discharge limitations.

Discharges to the city's separate stormwater system shall, to the maximum extent practicable, not create a nuisance, cause interference with the legitimate use of city separate stormwater system, and shall not create the following conditions:

(1) Foam or floating, suspended or deposited macroscopic particulate matter;

(2) Bottom deposits or aquatic growth;

(3) Alteration of temperature, turbidity, or apparent color beyond present natural background levels;

(4) Visible, floating, suspended, or deposited oil, grease, or any products of petroleum origin;

(5) Toxic or deleterious substances to be present in concentrations or quantities which will cause harmful effects on aquatic biota, wildlife, or waterfowl, or which render any of these unfit for human consumption either at levels created in the receiving waters or as a result of biological concentration.

Sec. 4-11042. Watercourse Protection

Every person owning property through which a watercourse passes, or such person’s lessee, shall keep and maintain that part of the water course within the property free of trash, debris, excessive vegetation, and other obstacles that would pollute, contaminate, or significantly retard the flow of water through the watercourse. In addition the owner or lessee shall maintain existing privately owned structures within or adjacent to a watercourse, so that such structures will not become a hazard to the use, function, or integrity of the watercourse.

Sec. 4-11043. Accidental discharge reporting requirements.

In the event of an accidental discharge to the city's separate stormwater system of any material or substance other than stormwater runoff or those discharges specifically excluded in section 4-11027, the stormwater department shall be contacted immediately of the nature, quantity and time of occurrence of the discharge. The responsible party shall take immediate steps to contain, treat or to otherwise minimize effects of the discharge on the city's system and receiving streams. Immediate steps shall be taken to ensure no recurrence of the discharge. A written report addressed to the director of stormwater management detailing the date, time, cause, quantity, and characteristics of the discharge and the corrective and preventative actions taken will be sent to the director within five working days of the incident.

LINKS:

Savannah Stormwater Management Unit Maintenance Inspections Brochure

City of Savannah Stormwater Management Local Design Manual

Savannah Stormwater Management Ordinance