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Drain Commissioner


The mission of the Van Buren County Drain Commissioner's office is to improve and maintain storm water drainage for the public health, safety, convenience, and welfare of the citizens of Van Buren County and to be an effective and efficient steward of our natural and fiscal resources.

The Michigan Drain Code (Act 40 of Public Acts of 1956, as amended) is the law that governs the responsibilities of the Drain Commissioner. The Drain Commissioner and staff are responsible for the establishment, construction and maintenance of over 540 established county drains and storm water management systems in Van Buren County.

A county drain may be an open ditch, stream, underground pipe, retention pond or swale that conveys storm water. These drains become designated as county drains through a petition process where either property owners or a local city, village or township petitions the Drain Commissioner to establish a county drain.

These systems are designed to provide storm water management, drainage, flood prevention and stream protection for agricultural and developed lands. Within county drainage districts, the Drain Commissioner is responsible for accounting of expenditures and financial statements, for maintaining records of the establishment and operation of each, and for conducting routine inspections and maintenance of the drains.

Each county drain has a contributing area of land (like a watershed) called a drainage district. A drainage district is a public corporation that is legally and financially responsible for maintaining the functioning of the drain. All costs are paid for by drain assessments. 

The Drain Commissioner is also responsible for fifteen lake levels throughout Van Buren County. Each lake level and assessment district are established through Inland Lake Levels, Part 307 of Public Act 451 of 1994. Additionally, the Dam Safety Act, Part 315 of Public Act 451 of 1994 requires that the Drain Commissioner maintains all lake levels and structures. Each lake level structure must be inspected on a tri-annual basis and reported to the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality. 

The Drain Commissioner’s Office is responsible for review and approval of storm water management systems in private developments under the Michigan Land Division Act and in response to local governments' adopting the Drain Commissioner’s Storm Water Site Plan Development Rules as part of their local site plan review and approval. 

The Drain Commissioner’s Office is also the administrator of the Soil Erosion and Sedimentation Control Program, Part 91, as established by the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act, 1994 (P.A.) 451, as amended and County Ordinance (January 9, 2007) for Van Buren County.  This act is designed to keep the soils and sedimentation of the State of Michigan from being deposited into Michigan’s lakes, streams, wetlands and adjacent properties through permits, inspections and site plan review. 

*Van Buren County Soil Erosion & Sedimentation Control Ordinance Updated and Approved by County BOC on March 12, 2019*

 Smart Assessments:  BMP Certification Program

Cover of Article About Smart Assessments


 Smart Assessments - Full Article

PowerPoint Presentation - Smart Assessments: BMP Certification Program


The following holidays will be observed through 2018.  On these dates the following offices/facilities will be closed: Courthouse and Annex Offices, County Offices located in the Administration/Land Services Building.  Animal Control, District Court in South Haven, and MSU Extension.

Van Buren County Employee


New Years Day - Monday, January 1
Martin Luther King Day – Monday, January 15
President’s Day – Monday, February 19 Memorial Day – Monday, May 28 Independence Day – Wednesday, July 4 Labor Day, Monday, September 3
Veteran’s Day – Monday, November 12 Thanksgiving Day – Thursday, November 22 Day after Thanksgiving – Friday, November 23 Christmas Eve – Monday, December 24 Christmas Day – Tuesday, December 25 New Year’s Eve – Monday, December 31

County Drain Commissioner

Van Buren County Drain Commissioner

Administration & Land Services Building, 3rd Floor

219 E. Paw Paw Street, Suite 301
Paw Paw , MI 49079

(269) 657-8241
(269) 657-8286 FAX

Hours M - F 8:30 A.M. - 5:00 P.M.


Joe Parman
Drain Commissioner

Peter Van Dop, P.E., P.S.
Engineer/Chief Deputy

Georgia Genis
Deputy Drain Commissioner

Randy Counterman

Soil Erosion & Sedimentation Control & Drain Maint. Supervisor