The Gogebic County Drain Commissioner's office is dedicated to providing good drainage for agriculture, homes, and businesses; to protecting riparian rights, natural resources, and water quality; and to managing our waterways for multiple uses, including recreation, fishing, swimming, boating, scenic value, and wildlife habitat.
About the Office
The Gogebic County Drain Commissioner is an elected office with a four year term. The Drain Commissioner is elected county-wide in a partisan election at the same time as the U.S. Presidential election.
The Drain Commissioner's Office is independent of the County Board of Commissioners, other than for its administrative budget and the supplying of office facilities and equipment.
The Drain Commissioner's Office carries many responsibilities not only to the County but the State of Michigan. The Drain Commissioner's Office is bound by state statutes in effect for over one hundred years.
The Drain Commissioner provides for oversight on public drainage over the department's area of jurisdiction and sometimes jointly with adjacent counties when warranted. The office is responsible for the maintenance of these drainage areas after being established. The Drain Commissioner is responsible for the legal establishment, and administration of drainage districts, legally set lake levels, court-ordered lake levels where dams and impoundments are involved. The office is responsible for setting up assessments, for initiating, maintaining, and spreading legal costs over an assessment area for the benefit of property owners involved in the above-mentioned issues.
All drainage work completed through the Drain Commissioner’s Office is by petition of the property owners or municipalities. Beneficiaries are property owners, cities, villages, townships and the county-at-large. Projects are financed through special assessments. The Drain Commissioner is responsible for spreading the special assessments, maintaining accounting of expenditures and assessment collections. Property owners are assessed for direct benefit. Cities, villages and townships are assessed for health benefits and the county-at-large is assessed for the benefit to county roads.
The Drain Commissioner's office functions under the authority of State legislation. The role of the Drain Commissioner is described in the following acts:
Michigan Drain Code (Act 40, P.A. of 1956 as amended)
Land Division Act (Act 288 of 1967, as last amended by Act 87 of 1997)
Condominium Act (Act 59 of 1978)
Mobile Home Commission Act (Act 96 of 1987)
Inland Lake Level Act (Act 146, P.A. of 1961
The Drain Commissioner is a member by statute of All Lake Improvement Boards
TheDrain Commissioner reviews external and internal drainage of preliminary and final plats for subdivisions/residential developments as governed by the Michigan Subdivision Control Act. All plats require the signature of final approval as to stormwater management from the Drain Commissioner.
What is a County Drain?
A County Drain is a public utility created for improved drainage of a certain area known as a Drainage District. The Drainage District is all of the area, which contributes storm water runoff to the Drain. The Drain and the Drainage District are established through a process involving petitions and public hearings.
A County Drain may be an open ditch, a stream, and an enclosed drain or retention pond that conveys storm water. These systems were designed to provide storm water management, drainage and flood prevention for agricultural and developed lands.
What is a Drain Right-of-Way?
Right-of-way (easements) are granted to the Drain Commissioner's office along all designated county drains for the purpose of allowing access to inspect, 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 connecting to or installing a crossing requires a permit.
What is not a County Drain?
Not all ditches and streams are County Drains. There are natural watercourses, private ditches and roadside ditches that are not considered County Drains. Contacting the Drain office is generally the best way to inquiry whose has jurisdiction over a ditch.
How does a Drain project begin?
A petition is required to initiate a County Drain project. The petitioning requirements vary for new, existing or Intercounty Drains. The Drain office will prepare and issue the petition at the request of a landowner. The landowner circulates the petition within the drainage district to obtain a predetermined amount of signatures and returns the petition to the Drain office. Once the signatures on the petition have been verified, the petition is determined to be a valid petition. The Drain Commissioner appoints three people from outside the Drainage District to act as a Board of Determination. Notices are mailed to the entire Drainage District announcing a public hearing that has been scheduled to receive public input regarding the necessity of improving the drain. If the Board of Determination believes that it is necessary to improve the Drain, they sign an Order of Determination, instructing the Drain Commissioner to construct a project to improve the Drain.
How are Drain projects funded?
Each drain is encompassed by its drainage district. This is a special assessment district, which is responsible for all costs related to construction or maintenance of the drain. When a construction project is undertaken on a County Drain, the construction costs are assessed to the drainage district and any municipality that has land or interest in the drainage district. Each landowner liable to an assessment is notified by mail and such notice is published in a newspaper of general circulation regarding the Day of Review, a day set aside for persons to review their apportionment.
Drain Project Steps
Petitioned drainage projects must go through numerous steps before they actually become a project:
A petition must be submitted to the Drain Commissioner with 5 signatures or more from property owners in the district.
A Board of Determination is made up of three disinterested property owners in the County, who do not have any interests in the drainage district.
A public meeting is held and the Board of Determination determines if the drain needs cleaning, extending, tiling, widening, deepening, straightening or relocating or does not need any work.
If the Board of Determination determines the project is necessary the Drain Commissioner then takes over.
An engineering plan and profile is done.
Final Order of Determination by the Drain Commissioner.
Computation of Costs.
Day of Review held for the property owners in the district to review their assessment. The properties within the drainage district are assessed according to their benefits.
Construction or clean out of the drain.
Note: If you would like a petition for a county drain please contact our office and we will supply you with a petition. You will need to circulate the petition and 5 or more signatures must be collected from property owners in the assessment district. Finally the circulator will need to sign the petition in the presence of a notary public before submitting to the Drain Commissioner.