Drain Commissioner's Office
Clinton County Fairgrounds, Smith Hall, 800 W. Sickles Street, St. Johns, MI 48879
Links to Maps of Drainage Districts being assessed in 2021
Duties & Responsibilities
The Michigan Drain Code (Public Act 40 of 1956, as amended) is the law that governs the responsibilities of the Drain Commissioner. The Drain Commissioner, Phil Hanses, and staff are responsible for the construction, operation, and maintenance of over 625 established county drains in Clinton County.
The Drain Commissioner is responsible for compiling all accounting records of financial activities for county drains and for preparation and maintaining records of the establishment and operation of all county drains.
A drainage district is a defined area that contributes storm water runoff to a drain. A drain is established in 1 of 2 ways:
- Through a petition process where property owners or a local city, village, or township petitions the Drain Commissioner to establish a county drain.
- An owner of property may construct a drainage system at the owners expense and transfer authority for the operation and maintenance of the system to the Drain Commissioner through a Dedication Deed and Agreement (aka 433 Agreement).
Drain Maintenance & Repairs
The Drain Commissioner may in any one year, without a petition, expend up to $5,000 per mile, per drain for maintenance and repair. To recover costs, special drain assessments are levied against property owners, local governments, county roads, railroads and state highways benefited by the construction and/or maintenance.
A right-of-way or easement for construction and maintenance is obtained on behalf of the Drainage District along each side of the drain prior to construction. The right-of-way along a county drain remains in effect for as long as the drain continues in existence.
Not all ditches, streams, or underground pipes are County drains. There are many natural watercourses, ditches and underground pipelines that are not County drains. Most ditches along roads are not County drains. The Drain Commissioner has no authority over these systems. Most often, the responsibility for these systems lies with a landowner, County Road Commission, Michigan Department of Transportation, or the municipality in which the system is located. An inquiry to the Drain Commissioner's Office is often the only way to be certain of the status of a ditch, stream, or pipe.
The County's drainage systems are designed and constructed to handle rural development and agricultural storm water. As more of the County's land surface becomes impervious (i.e. rooftops and paved parking areas) through development, storm water management becomes necessary. Therefore, all new developments in Clinton County are required to incorporate stormwater management measures to address the resulting runoff. P.A. 591 of 1996, Michigan Land Division Act grants the Drain Commissioner authority to approve drainage for platted developments in accordance with published standards. In cooperation with various local governmental units in the County, the Drain Commissioner reviews drainage impacts and recommends approval of condominium projects, manufactured housing parks, a variety of commercial projects, gravel pits, and private and/or public road extensions serving new developments.
The Drain Commissioner serves on a statutory drainage board to oversee the management of inter-county drains established under Chapter 6 and maintained under Chapter 21 of the Michigan Drain Code. This inter-county drainage board consists of the Drain Commissioner of each county involved and Department of Agriculture representative who acts as a chairperson of the inter-county drainage board.
The Drain Commissioner also serves on the County Parks and Green Space Commission as well as on the Board of Public Works.