GUEST VIEW: Drain commissioner duties explained

By Daily News • Last Updated 10:09 am on Thursday, October 18, 2012

Sandy Raines

The drain commissioner runs an important and complex office for the county; unless directly affected most people do not understand the functions of the drain office.

The question that I hear the most often is, “what is a drain commissioner and what do they do?” The drain commissioner is elected by state law every four years on a partisan basis, and is charged with administering Michigan laws related to flood protection, storm water management and soil erosion.

The drain commissioner is responsible for overseeing the construction, maintenance and improvement of county public storm drains, which Montcalm County has over 260 county drains. A drain may be a natural creek or open ditch, underground pipe, or retention pond that conveys storm water. The lands served by a particular drain, its watershed, is organized as a drainage district and the drain commissioner levies tax assessments and directs construction or maintenance of drains and culverts on behalf of each district. Drainage districts are public corporations, with legal rights similar to other political subdivisions of state government.

Other duties are:

• Review and approve storm water drainage plans for all subdivision plats and commercial developments.

• County Enforcing Agency for Soil Erosion and Sedimentation Control, certified by the state of Michigan to administrate the laws. The drain office reviews and approves plans, issues soil erosion permits and inspect construction sites; a permit is required for any earth disturbance within 500 feet of any lake, river, stream, creek or watercourse or excavation or filling of more than one acre of land.

• Authorized Public Agency designated by the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), responsible for implementing soil erosion measures during all earth change activities on county drains.

• Delegated by the Montcalm County Board of Commissioners the administrative duties to oversee court established lake levels. Responsible to inspect and maintain eight lake level structures.

• By law serves as a member of the lake improvement boards, responsible for the administration of 15 lake improvement boards.

• Appointed by the Montcalm County Board of Commissioners as the Board of Public Works for Montcalm County. Responsible for the administration, operation, maintenance and management of the Sidney Township sewer system including the treatment plant, which services Derby and Nevins Lakes, Montcalm Community College, Montcalm Area Career Center and two other public sewer systems.

• By law serves as a member of the County Parks & Recreation Commission.

 Sandy Raines is the deputy drain commissioner.

The opinions expressed in the Guest View do not necessarily represent the opinions of The Daily News.

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