Drain Commissioner

Drain Commissioner

Joe Suma 

2023 Special Assessments
Please see our calendar for Public Meetings

About the Drain Commissioner:
The 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 is independent of the County Board of Commissioners, other than for its administrative budget and the supplying of office facilities and equipment.

The Lapeer County Drain Commissioner is a member of the Michigan Association of County Drain Commissioners, a professional organization that promotes collaboration, continued education, and professional development.

Drain Commissioner Responsibilities:
The Lapeer County Drain Commissioner is responsible for establishing and maintaining county drains in order to provide health and safety for the residents of Lapeer County. This is done by following the rules of the Michigan Drain Code, Act 40 of 1956, as amended.

The Lapeer County Drain Commissioner manages approximately 260 county and inter-county drains, five dams, and one weir.

Other programs and responsibilities of the Drain Commissioner include:

  • Operation and maintenance of established lake levels and flood control structures.
  • Review and approve of new subdivision plats.
  • Award contracts and secure financing for projects.
  • Administration of construction and/or financing of other infrastructure projects of local governmental units, under provisions of both P.A. 342 of 1939 and P.A. 185 of 1957.

Drain Commissioner Goals and Objectives:

 The goal of the Drain Commissioner is:

  • To improve efficiency of the storm-drain maintenance program and provide the most cost-effective operation and maintenance.
  • Provide and assist all parties in planning and developing the ways to correct drainage water and sewer problems.
  • Reduce the time it takes to accomplish hearing, planning and design stages of petitioned new drains, or for reconstruction of existing drains, to a period no longer than two years.
  • Develop and implement a drain crossing/connection permit system with appropriate fees.
  • Maintain a current and effective record of individual drain fund financial activities.
  • Develop a direct computer link between the Drain Office, Equalization Department and Treasurer’s Office for accessibility to current property owners, legal descriptions, and to directly download special assessments on to tax notices.
  • Provide information for the GIS mapping system on USGS base maps enabling easy and accurate access to soils, drains, drainage districts, landowners and property descriptions.

Property Owner’s Responsibilities
As a property owner, it is your responsibility to know what is on your land. Reach out to the drain office to determine if a drain is located on your property and what the right-of-way distance is.

If you receive a letter from the Drain Office, read it. It will contain important information, such as meeting notices or notification of maintenance.

Keep the name of the drain handy in case you need to contact this office 810-667-0371

Common Drain Terms:

Drains are an important part of infrastructure by allowing water to flow properly in order to maintain a healthy and safe environment in the community. Drains can either be Open – similar to a ditch, creek, or river, or tile – located underground where water flows through clay tiles.

Right-of-Way: This is the width given to the drain for the purpose of inspecting and maintaining the drain. The right-of-way is given in a measurement of feet from the centerline of the drain.

Easement or Release of Right-of-Way: An Easement, or Release of Right-of-Way, is a recorded document that gives permission from the property owner to the drain crew to inspect and maintain the drain. This document carries with the property for all time and is treated similar to a deed. Originally, Easements and Release of Right-of-Ways were recorded with the Drain Commissioner.

Special Assessment: By state statute, the properties located within a drainage district are financially responsible for that drain. Any costs incurred will be charged to the property owners as a special assessment, to be payable on the winter tax bill. A project may be split over several years and may be eligible for an early payoff. Contact this office for special assessment information specific to your property.

Vegetation Maintenance: This is the clearing out of brush along the drain using an herbicide. This office contracts with professionals to apply chemicals according to Michigan Department of Agriculture and EPA regulations. You will receive notification of upcoming work in your area.

Maintenance: Cleaning out or clearing: This is more extensive work needed to ensure an obstruction-free flow through the drain. This can involve digging out, widening or straightening the drain and leveling the spoils, repairing damaged open drains to prevent soil erosion, repairing broken tiles in tile drains, etc. You will receive a notice in the mail notifying you of upcoming work. Someone from this office, or contracted by this office, will attempt to contact you directly regarding specific work needing to be done on your property. Additional information is provided in your notice letter.

Beaver Dams: Beaver dams are destructive to drains. Should you find a beaver dam in your drain, please contact our office right away at (810) 667-0371. We will contact a professional trapper to remove the beavers and have the dam removed to allow water to properly flow once again.

Day of Review: This a public meeting to allow for Review of Drainage District Boundaries and Review of Apportionment, based on a licensed engineers’ recommendation. Property owners will receive a notice of the meeting and are encouraged to attend.

             Frequently Asked Questions about Day of Review

Petition: Property owners can petition for work to be done on an existing drain, for a new drain to be created, or for the creation of a new drainage district. Please contact this office for more information.

Frequently Requested Phone Numbers

State of Michigan Environmental Assistance Center 800-662-9278
State of Michigan EGLE- Lansing Division (Brittaney Beavers) 517-245-3063
Michigan Department of Transportation- Davison 810-653-7470
Lapeer County Road Commission 810-664-6272
Lapeer County Health Department- Soil & Erosion 810-245-4753
Lapeer County Health Department- Well & Septic 810-667-0392
Local Department of Public Works  
Imlay City 810-724-2135
Lapeer 810-664-4711
Village of Almont 810-798-8528
Village of Columbiaville 810-793-2408
Village of Dryden 810-796-2207
Village of North Branch 810-688-3410