Stormwater Management and Erosion Control (Local Law) Model Ordinance

Section One: Short Title

This Ordinance shall be known as the "Stormwater Management and Erosion Control Law."

Section Two: Findings of Fact

The (City/Town/Village) finds that uncontrolled drainage and runoff associated with land development has a significant impact upon the health, safety and welfare of the community.


  1. Stormwater runoff can carry pollutants into receiving waterbodies, degrading water quality;
  2. The increase in nutrients in stormwater runoff such as phosphorus and nitrogen accelerates eutrophication of receiving waters;
  3. Improper design and construction of drainage facilities can increase the velocity of runoff thereby increasing streambank erosion and sedimentation;
  4. Construction requiring land clearing and the alteration of natural topography tends to increase erosion;
  5. Siltation of waterbodies resulting from increased erosion decreases their capacity to hold and transport water, interferes with navigation, and harms flora and fauna;
  6. Impervious surfaces increase the volume and rate of stormwater runoff and allow less water to percolate into the soil, thereby decreasing groundwater recharge and stream base flow;
  7. Improperly managed stormwater runoff can increase the incidence of flooding and the level of floods which occur, endangering property and human life;
  8. Substantial economic losses can result from these adverse impacts on community waters;
  9. Many future problems can be avoided if land is developed in accordance with sound stormwater runoff management practices.

Section Three: Purpose and Objectives

In order to protect, maintain and enhance both the immediate and the long-term health, safety and general welfare of the citizens of (City/Town/Village), this Ordinance has the following objectives:

  1. Prevent increases in the magnitude and frequency of stormwater runoff so as to prevent an increase in flood flows and in the hazards and costs associated with flooding;
  2. Prevent decreases in groundwater recharge and stream base flow so as to maintain aquatic life, assimilative capacity, and potential water supplies;
  3. Maintain the integrity of stream geometry so as to sustain the hydrologic functions of streams;
  4. Control erosion and sedimentation so as to prevent its deposition in streams and other receiving water bodies;
  5. Facilitate the removal of pollutants in stormwater runoff so as to perpetuate the natural biological functions of streams; and,
  6. To the extent practical, secure multiple community benefits such as groundwater replenishment, open space protection, and increased recreational opportunity through integrated land use - stormwater management planning.

Section Four: Authority

In accordance with (Article 10 of the municipal Home Rule Law, Article 20 of the General City Law, Article 9 of the Town Law, and Article 4 and 20 of the Village Law) of the State of New York (choose appropriate law and delete inappropriate laws), the (City/Town/Village) has the authority to enact (local laws/ordinances) for the purpose of promoting the health, safety or general welfare of (City/Town/Village). The (City/Town/Village) may include in any such (local law/ordinance) provisions for the appointment of any municipal officer or employees to effectuate and administer such (local law/ordinance).

Section Five: Jurisdiction

Upon approval of this Ordinance by the (City/Town/Village), all site preparation and construction activities requiring approval under this Ordinance shall be in conformance with the provisions set forth herein.

Section Six: Definitions

Unless specifically defined below, words or phrases shall be interpreted so as to give them the meaning they have in common usage and to give this Ordinance its most effective application. Words used in the singular shall include the plural and the plural the singular; words used in the present tense shall include the future tense. The word "shall" connotes mandatory and not discretionary; the word "may" is permissive.

Critical Environmental Area - A specific geographic area designated by a state or local agency having exceptional or unique characteristics that make the area environmentally important.

Development - To make a site or area available for use by physical alteration. Development includes but is not limited to providing access to a site, clearing of vegetation, grading, earth moving, providing utilities and other services such as parking facilities, stormwater management and erosion control systems, and sewage disposal systems, altering landforms, or construction of a structure on the land.

Drywell - Similar to infiltration trench but smaller with inflow from pipe; commonly covered with soil and used for drainage areas of less than 1 acre such as roadside inlets and rooftop runoff.

Erosion - The removal of soil particles by the action of the water, wind, ice or other geological agents.

Exfiltration - The downward movement of runoff through the bottom of an infiltration system into the soil.

Extended Detention - A practice to store stormwater runoff by collection as a temporary pool of water and provide for its gradual (attenuated) release over 24 hours or more. A practice which is used to control peak discharge rates, and which provides gravity settling of pollutants.

First Flush - The delivery of a disproportionately large load of pollutants during the early part of storms due to the rapid runoff of accumulated pollutants. The first flush in these guidelines is defined as the runoff generated from a one year 24 hour storm event from land which has been made more impervious from pre-development conditions through land grading and construction/development activities.

Flood Plain - For a given flood event, that area of land temporarily covered by water which adjoins a watercourse.

Forebay - An extra storage area or treatment area, such as a sediment pond or created wetland, near an inlet of a stormwater management facility to trap incoming sediments or take up nutrients before they reach a retention of extended detention pond.

Impervious Area - Impermeable surfaces, such as pavement or rooftops, which prevent the percolation of water into the soil.

Infiltration - A practice designed to promote the recharge of groundwater by containment and concentration of stormwater in porous soils.

Infiltration Basin - An impoundment made by excavation or embankment construction to contain and exfiltrate runoff into the soil layer.

Outfall - The terminus of a storm drain where the contents are released.

Peak Flow - The maximum rate of flow of water at a given point and time resulting from a storm event.

Peak Flow Attenuation - The reduction of the peak discharge of storm runoff by storage and gradual release of that storage.

Retention - A practice designed to store stormwater runoff by collection as a permanent pool of water without release except by means of evaporation, infiltration, or attenuated release when runoff volume exceeds the permanent storage capacity of the permanent pool.

Riprap - a combination of large stone, cobbles and boulders used to line channels, stabilize stream banks, reduce runoff velocities.

Riser - A vertical pipe that is used to control the discharge rate from a pond for the specified design storm.

Stream Corridor - The landscape features on both sides of a stream, including soils, slope and vegetation, whose alteration can directly impact the streams physical characteristics and biological properties.

Swale - A natural depression or wide shallow ditch used to temporarily route, or filter runoff.

Section Seven: Applicability

  1. It has been established that the land cleaning, land grading, earth moving or development activities can have a significant effect on the environment, therefore, no person, corporation, organization, or public agency shall, on or after the effective date of the ordinance:
    1. Initiate any land clearing, land grading, earth moving or development activities without first preparing a stormwater management and erosion control plan and obtaining approval of said plan from the (City/Town/Village), or;
    2. Alter any drainage system without first preparing a stormwater management and erosion control plan and obtaining approval of said plan from the (City/Town/Village).
  2. Exemptions. The following activities are exempt from the Stormwater Management and Erosion Control Plan requirements:
    1. Agricultural activities, including household gardening and timber harvesting that is not part of a development project;
    2. Development of less than five single-family or duplex residential dwelling units and their accessory structures such as garages and storage sheds in an existing subdivision;
    3. Development of one single-family or duplex residential structure not in an existing subdivision;
    4. Industrial and/or commercial development projects which result in an impervious surface less than 10,000 square feet;
    5. Any maintenance, alteration, use or improvement to an existing structure which will not change the quality, rate, volume or location of surface water discharge or contribute to erosion and sedimentation.

Section Eight: Contents of the Stormwater Management and Erosion Control Plan

  1. It is the responsibility of an applicant to prepare a Stormwater Management and Erosion Control Plan so that the (City/Town/Village) can evaluate the environmental characteristics of the affected areas, the potential and predicted impacts of the proposed activity on community waters, and the effectiveness and acceptability of those measures proposed by the applicant for reducing or mitigating adverse impacts.
  2. The Stormwater Management and Erosion Control Plan shall contain the name, address, and telephone number of the owner and developer. In addition, the legal description of the property shall be provided, and its location with reference to such landmarks as major waterbodies, adjoining roads, railroads, subdivisions, or towns shall be clearly identified on a map.
  3. The structure and content of the Stormwater Management and Erosion Control Plan shall be as follows:
    1. Background Information
      1. Project description
      2. Existing (pre-development) conditions
      3. Proposed future (development) conditions
    2. Comparison of pre-development with post-development runoff
      1. Methodology
      2. Calculations
    3. Stormwater Management
      1. Stormwater management facilities
      2. Stormwater conveyance system
      3. Recreational and/or landscape features (optional)
    4. Erosion and Sediment Control
      1. Temporary erosion and sediment control facilities
      2. Permanent erosion and sediment control facilities
    5. Implementation Schedule and Maintenance

Section Nine: Plan Review Process

  1. Provisions for stormwater management and erosion control should be considered in a three-stage process:
    1. Pre-submission Phase - which provides an opportunity for the community to learn of the developer's intent and for the developer to learn of the community's requirements and standards for development.
    2. Preliminary Site Development Plan Phase - which includes the submission of an application for preliminary site development plan approved for a developer. The application shall be accompanied by information about the proposal as set forth in Section Eight of this Ordinance. Because it is a preliminary action and not final, action on the proposal shall be given as tentative approval, tentative approval with modification or disapproval.
    3. Final Site Development Plan Phase - if approval or approval with modification is tentatively given in the preliminary site development phase, the next step can be submission of a final application, including the necessary documentation for final approval. It is this phase that any requested modifications be satisfied as part of final application submission.
  2. The Stormwater Management and Erosion Control Plan shall not be approved unless it is consistent with the Purposes and Objectives of this Ordinance in Section Three and the Performance Standards described in Section Ten.
  3. Inspections. No Stormwater Management and Erosion Control Plan will be approved without adequate provision for inspection of the property before development activity commences. The applicant shall arrange with the (City/Town/Village) for scheduling the following activities:
    1. Initial Inspection: prior to approval of the Stormwater Management and Erosion Control Plan;
    2. Erosion Control Inspection: to ensure erosion control practices are in accord with the Plan;
    3. Bury Inspection: prior to backfilling of any underground drainage or stormwater conveyance structures;
    4. Final Inspection: when all work including construction of stormwater management facilities has been completed.

The (City/Town/Village) shall inspect the work and either approve it or notify the applicant in writing in what respects there has been a failure to comply with the requirements of the approved Stormwater Management and Erosion Control Plan. Any portion of the work which does not comply shall be promptly corrected by the applicant or the applicant with be subject to the bonding provisions of Section Thirteen and the penalty provisions of Section Fourteen. The (City/Town/Village) may conduct random inspections to ensure effective control of erosion and sedimentation during all phases of construction.

Section Ten: Performance Standards

Stormwater Management and Erosion Control Plans shall be prepared in accordance with performance standards which have been structured to achieve the purposes and objectives of this Ordinance as well as to ensure that the quality and quantity of runoff after development is not substantially altered from pre-development conditions.

Section Eleven: Off-Site Stormwater Management Facilities

  1. The (City/Town/Village) may allow stormwater runoff that is of unacceptable quality or which would be discharged in volumes or rates in excess of those otherwise allowed by this Ordinance, to be discharged into stormwater management facilities off the site of development if all of the following conditions are met:
    1. It is not practicable to completely manage runoff on-site in a manner that meets the Performance Standards in Section Ten;
    2. The off-site drainage facilities and channels leading to them are designed, constructed and maintained in accordance with the requirements of this Ordinance;
    3. Adverse environmental impacts on the site of development will be minimized;
      1. Adequate provision is made for the sharing of construction and operating costs of the off-site facilities. The developer may be required to pay a portion of the cost of constructing the facilities as a condition to receiving approval of the drainage plan.
      2. Use of regional off-site stormwater management facilities does not eliminate the requirement that the first-flush be captured and treated on-site pursuant to the Section Ten Performance Standards.
      3. A request to use off-site stormwater management facilities and all information related to the proposed off-site facilities shall be made a part of the developer's stormwater management plan.

Section Twelve: Maintenance

  1. The (City/Town/Village) shall determine whether stormwater management facilities are to be maintained by the developer/owner, a homeowner's association, or by the (City/Town/Village).
    1. If maintenance is to be performed by a homeowner's association, the homeowner's association must be registered pursuant to Section 352-E of the New York State General Business Law.
    2. If maintained by an owner or homeowner's association, a maintenance plan containing a maintenance schedule shall be provided by the developer, owner and/or homeowner's association for approval by the (City/Town/Village) (see Section Eight (3)).
    3. Stormwater management facilities maintained by an owner or home owner's association shall have adequate easements to permit the (City/Town/Village) to inspect and, if necessary, to take corrective action should the owner fail to properly maintain the system. Before taking corrective action, the (City/Town/Village) shall give the owner or home owner's association written notice of the nature of the existing defects. If the owner or homeowner's association fails within thirty (30) days from the date of the notice to commence corrective action or to appeal the matter to the (City/Town/Village), the (City/Town/Village) may take necessary corrective action, the cost of which shall be borne by the owner or developer pursuant to Section Thirteen of this Ordinance or by the homeowner's association. If, in the event the homeowner's association fails to pay for required corrective action, the (City/Town/Village) shall have a lien placed on the real property of members of the homeowner's association until payment is made.
  2. Stormwater management facilities may be dedicated to the (City/Town/Village) for purposes of maintenance by mutual consent and agreement of the developer/owner and (City/Town/Village).

Section Thirteen: Performance Bond

  1. In order to ensure the full and faithful completion of all construction activities related to compliance with all conditions set forth by the (City/Town/Village) in its approval of the Stormwater Management and Erosion Control Plan, the (City/Town/Village) may require the developer to provide, prior to construction, a performance bond, escrow account certification, or irrevocable letter of credit from an appropriate financial or surety institution which guarantees satisfactory completion of the project and names the (City/Town/Village) as the beneficiary. The security shall be in an amount to be determined by the (City/Town/Village) based on submission of final design plans, with reference to actual construction costs.
  2. Where stormwater management and erosion and sediment control facilities are to be operated and maintained by the developer or by a corporation that owns or manages a commercial or industrial facility, the developer, prior to construction, may be required to provide the (City/Town/Village) with an irrevocable letter of credit from an appropriate financial institution or surety to ensure proper operation and maintenance of all stormwater management and erosion control facilities for the life of the project.

The letter of credit shall remain in force until the surety is released from liability by the (City/Town/Village).

Per annum interest on the letter of credit will be reinvested in the account until the surety is released from liability.

The operation and maintenance letter of credit shall remain in force for the life of the project.

If the developer or owner fails to properly operate and maintain stormwater management and erosion and sediment control facilities, the (City/Town/Village) may draw upon the account to cover the costs of proper operation and maintenance.

Section Fourteen: Enforcement

  1. Nuisance. Any development activity that is commenced without prior approval of a Stormwater Management and Erosion Control Plan or is conducted contrary to an approved Stormwater Management and Erosion Control Plan as required by this Ordinance, may be restrained by injunction or otherwise abated in a manner provided by law.
  2. Civil and Criminal Penalties. In addition to or as an alternative to any penalty provided herein or by law, any person who violates the provisions of this Ordinance shall be punished by a fine of not less than One Hundred Dollars ($100) nor more than One Thousand Dollars ($1000) or by imprisonment for a period not to exceed sixty (60) days, or by both such fine and imprisonment. Such person shall be guilty of a separate offense for each day during which the violation occurs or continues.
  3. Any violator may be required to restore land to its undisturbed condition. In the event that restoration is not undertaken within a reasonable time after notice, the (City/Town/Village) may take necessary corrective action, the cost of which shall become a lien upon the property until paid.
  4. Notice of Violation. When the (City/Town/Village) determines that development activity is not being carried out in accordance with the requirements of this Ordinance, it shall issue a written notice of violation to the owner of the property. The notice of violation shall contain:
    1. The name and address of the owner or applicant;
    2. The street address when available or a description of the building, structure, or land upon which the violation is occurring;
    3. A statement specifying the nature of the violation;
    4. A description of the remedial actions necessary to bring the development activity into compliance with this Ordinance and a time schedule for completion of such remedial action;
    5. A statement of the penalty or penalties that shall or may be assessed against the person to whom the notice of violation is directed;
    6. A statement that the determination of violation may be appealed to the (City/Town/Village) by filing a written notice of appeal within fifteen (15) days of service of notice of violation.

The notice of violation shall be served upon the person(s) to whom it is directed either personally, in a manner provided for personal services of notices by the court of local jurisdiction, or by mailing a copy of the notice of the violation by certified mail, postage prepaid, return receipt requested to such person at his or her last known address.

A notice of violation issued pursuant to this section constitutes a determination from which an administrative appeal may be taken to the (City/Town/Village).

Section Fifteen: Appeals

Any person aggrieved by the action of any official charged with the enforcement of this Ordinance, as the result of the disapproval of a Stormwater Management and Erosion Control Plan, issuance of a written notice of violation, or an alleged failure to properly enforce the Ordinance in regard to a specific application, shall have the right to appeal the action to the (City/Town/Village). The appeal shall be filed in writing within twenty (20) days of the date of official transmittal of the final decision or determination to the applicant, shall state clearly the grounds on which the appeal is based, and shall be processed in the manner prescribed for hearing administrative appeals under (state/local code prevision).

Section Sixteen: Severability

Each separate provision of this Ordinance is deemed independent of all other provisions herein so that if any provision or provisions of this Ordinance is declared invalid, all other provisions thereof shall remain valid and enforceable.

Section Seventeen: Variance

The (City/Town/Village) may grant a written variance from any requirement of this Ordinance using the following criteria:

  1. There are special circumstances applicable to the subject property or its intended use; and
  2. The granting of the variance will not result in:
    1. An increase or decrease in the rate or volume of surface water runoff;
    2. An adverse impact on a wetland, water course or waterbody;
    3. Degradation of water quality; or
    4. Otherwise impair attainment of the objectives of this Ordinance.

Section Eighteen: Effective Date

This Ordinance shall become effective on______________________________

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