Permanent Drainage Easement

What you need to know

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Definition Easement Donations Easement Requirements


A Permanent Drainage Easement is a recorded, legal document that outlines permissions given to the City of Raleigh to access your property. The document describes:

  • Easement boundaries; and,
  • Any conditions or restrictions to access property.

Most projects have an easement so we can maintain specific stormwater pipes, channels, and streams over time. In the easement document, property owners are known as the "grantor" and the City of Raleigh is known as the "grantee."

Easement Donations

Property owners donate easements for a project before construction or land is disturbed. We do not buy easements for Drainage Assistance Program projects.


  1. Complete a consent form agreeing to donate an easement. You'll get this form from staff.
  2. Your project is shared with the Stormwater Management Advisory Commission (SMAC) and Raleigh City Council for approval.
  3. Once approved, we’ll confirm you are still willing to donate an easement. If you are not, the project cannot move forward.
  4. Right before construction starts, we’ll submit the easement to the Wake County Register of Deeds Office.

Important Details

  • Be sure you are willing to donate an easement before your project goes through approvals.
  • Talk with staff about what's involved with your project during this process.
  • Make sure you understand all aspects of the project and easement requirements.
  • Project details may change based on further investigation in the design phase.

What If I Don’t Want to Donate?

The project will be on hold until you donate an easement. Even without an easement - You are still responsible for maintaining any part of the stormwater system on your property.

Easement Requirements

There are several requirements with the easement to ensure the project works right. This means you can only do certain activities within the easement.

Allowed Activities

  • Trees with a root system that does not impact the stormwater system;
  • Shrubs and flowers; and,
  • Standard paved asphalt or concrete driveways and parking lots for underground drainage facilities, provided such driveways and parking lots meet the requirements of the City’s Unified Development Ordinance.

Stormwater facilities can include devices, culverts, and pipes that carry water through the city when it rains.

Activities Not Allowed

  • Trees planted over stormwater pipes;
  • Tennis courts, swimming pools, dams or anything that may block the flow of water;
  • Permanent structures made of brick, block or concrete; and,
  • Sheds or other buildings.
  • Fences unless approved by the Engineering Services Director.