An estimated 55,000 miles of designated drain can be found throughout Michigan. Many of these drains are surface drainage from agricultural fields that only have water during high flow periods. However others are perennial streams that can be home to numerous species of fish and wildlife. Drains may function similar to streams at times, but the management of them is much more complicated and complex than one might imagine.
This session is to provide the baseline information about how drains are managed, the Michigan Drain Code, and other roles of County Drain Commissioners. What makes a drain a drain? Who has ultimate authority of drains? What are Drain Commissioners legally mandated to do? How is that work completed? What involvement do other entities have in directing the work of County Drain Commissioners? Does the work of stream restoration professionals inherently interfere with Drain Commissioners’ work? What are other details of the Drain Code that stream restoration practitioners should understand?
Finally, by exploring a few recent projects, we’ll discuss how drain management continues to evolve in Michigan, the direction it’s headed, and what that means for potential stream projects.