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.