County Drain Information

Drains in Michigan were first established to provide drainage for roads that were built for access to interior regions of the state. Subsequent laws led to the drainage of swampland for crop production and expansion of agricultural activities. In 1898, Public Act 254 was enacted giving the responsibility of constructing and maintaining drains to an elected Drain Commissioner.

A county drain is an open ditch, stream, or underground pipe, retention pond or swale that conveys storm water. Most of our county drains were established in the late 1800's or early 1900's. These drains become designated as a county drain through a petition process where either property owners or a local city, village or township petitions the Drain Commissioner to establish a county drain. A Board of Determination consisting of three disinterested persons is appointed to serve at a public hearing, at which public testimony for and against said petition is heard. The Board then determines whether the drain is a necessity.

If the drain is deemed necessary, an engineering firm will determine which properties are in the watershed district that will get a benefit from the drain. Easements are signed and recorded to authorize the Drain Commission to have access to construct and maintain the drain. Any costs to construct or maintain that drain are then assessed back on the property owners within the drainage district.

The job of the drain commissioner is to oversee the county's drains. In Michigan, this can be a natural or artificial creek or ditch or a pipeline for carrying storm water. The territory served by a specific drain, known as its watershed, is organized as a drainage district. It is in these districts that the commissioner levies tax assessments and directs construction or maintenance of drains and culverts. Most counties have many drainage districts.

Montcalm County has over 180 designated county drains. The drain commissioner is responsible to maintain these drains. 

For drain payoff amounts, please email Anne Gaylord. Please make sure to include parcel numbers and property addresses.

2022 Drain Project List

2023 Drain Project List