There are more than 575 county drains in Van Buren County. Continued growth in population requires construction of new homes, schools, paved streets, parking lots, and commercial development, all demanding more and larger stormwater drainage than agriculture had ever required in the past. The County Drain Commissioner acts under Act 40 of the Public Acts of 1956, as amended, and has jurisdiction over all county drains. State statute defines a drain as “…the main stream or trunk and all tributaries or branches of any creek or river, and watercourse or ditch, either open or closed, any covered drain, any sanitary or any combined sanitary and storm sewer or conduit composed of tile, brick, concrete, or other material, any structures or mechanical devices that will properly purify the flow of such drains, any pumping equipment necessary to assist or relieve the flow of such drains and any levee, dike, barrier, or a combination of any or all of same constructed, or proposed to be constructed, for the purpose of drainage or for the purification of the flow of such drains,” (280.3 of 1956 PA 40).
County Drain Office Activities
The Van Buren County Drain Commissioner works with local property owners, county municipalities, the County Soil Erosion and Sedimentation Control Agent, the County Road Commission, the Michigan Department of Transportation, and the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality to reduce costly and destructive flooding in Van Buren County. The Van Buren County Road Commission and the Michigan Department of Transportation are responsible for the construction and maintenance of county roads and state highways which often rely on the county drain system to provide an outlet for excess water.
To improve stormwater drainage, a petition is signed by municipalities or by landowners of the drainage district and presented to the County Drain Commissioner. The process leading to a new drain is necessarily lengthy. It includes: Application and petition by land owners or municipalities; public notice; approval by a Board of Determination; release of right-of-way by property owners; notice of assessment; receipt of bids; letting of construction contract; review of apportionment’s; and assessment to the drainage district property owners. Local Municipalities, County and State governments and railroads also fund drains.