A county drain may be an open ditch, stream, or underground pipe, retention pond or swale that conveys storm water. These drains become designated a county drain through a petition process where either property owners or a local city, village or township petitions the Drain Commissioner to establish a county drain. A Board of Determination is appointed to serve at a public hearing, at which public testimony for and against said petition is heard. The Board then determines whether or not the petition will be granted.
Established County Drains
306 S North Street, PO Box 885
White Cloud, MI 49349
M-F 7:30am-12:00pm and 1pm-4pm
(231) 689-7213(231) 689-7266
The Drain Commissioner is responsible for the operation and maintenance of over 300 county drains. In Newaygo County these systems are designed to provide storm water management, drainage, flood prevention and stream protection for urban and agricultural lands. The Drain Commissioner also develops standards and design criteria for management of storm water runoff in developments, with a goal of protecting private property and natural resources of the state.
Within county drainage districts, the Drain Commissioner is responsible for accounting of expenditures and financial statements, for maintaining records of establishment and operation of each, and for conducting routine maintenance of the drains. Major drain projects (generally defined as those with costs in excess of $5000.00 per mile) are initiated by citizens or a municipality(s) through a petition process. Costs are recovered through special assessments levied on private properties, local governments, county roads, railroads, and state highways.
Right of Ways and Easements are granted to the Drain Commissioner’s office along all legally established county drains for the purpose of allowing access to operate, maintain or repair the drain. Property owners retain ownership, but are restricted from building permanent structures that may impede drain maintenance within the easement area. Work done by the property owner within the easement, such as constructing a crossing requires a permit from the Drain Commissioner. Drainage swales may not be filled in. Many right of ways and easements are recorded at the Newaygo County Register of Deeds office, and all are on file at the Newaygo County Drain Commissioner’s office. The width of right-of-way/easement varies from drain to drain depending on the drains’ size and type. Some are an unspecified width. The Michigan Drain Code (Act 40 of Public Acts of 1956 as amended) states that the Drain Commissioner may use and enter upon any Right of Way or easement for maintenance or any other lawful activity with respect to the drain without requiring a larger or different right of way.