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Michigan Farm Bureau Family of Companies

Agricultural Drainage #72

Michigan farmland is enhanced by an adequate and well-managed drain system. Over half of Michigan's farmland requires drainage to produce food, feed and fiber.

We support:

  • Members obtaining and recording drainage easements for all private drains crossing neighboring properties.

  • Requiring an individual or entity who breaks or damages a properly functioning tile and properly marked tile outlet to be responsible for returning the tile to operational condition within 30 days.

  • Legislation revoking the 1982 Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (MDEGLE) Rule 8 under Part 31 Rules for Inland Lakes and Streams, designating several drains as mainstream portions of eleven natural water courses. If the rule is not revoked, MDEGLE should be responsible to pay for all maintenance costs of the waterways according to the County Drain standards.

  • Landowners taking a proactive role and/or being notified and involved with their drain/water resources commissioners in routine drain maintenance and emergency repairs.

  • Drain/water resources commissioners offering incentives or credits for landowners who properly maintain drains located on their property.

  • Landowners voluntarily contributing to county drain maintenance through appropriate soil conservation practices working with Natural Resources Conservation Service and county drain/water resources commissioners.

  • Michigan Farm Bureau providing farmers and members with a better understanding of the Drain Code of 1956 by creating an educational series available to the general public.

The Michigan Drain Code is the legal vehicle for landowners to organize to solve mutual drainage problems for their benefit. Urbanization, agriculture and technology have increased the need for water resource management. Institutional structures such as the Michigan Drain Code, Subdivision Control Act, and Wetlands Protection Act, lack the necessary uniformity to provide water management standards that meet today's demands and tomorrow's needs.

We support the following provisions in the Drain Code:

  • The authority for administering the Drain Code should be maintained within the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development and the office of the drain/water resources commissioner at the local level.

  • If existing ditches are moved at the request of the county/county road commission, the additional cost should be the responsibility of the county/county road commission's project.

  • Current exemptions for drain maintenance within state statute are appropriate and should be maintained.

  • Revisions to the Drain Code that benefit agriculture are necessary to address the following concerns.

We support:

  • The concept of watershed management plan development with collaboration between drain/water resources commissioners, township and municipal officials, landowners, and conservation districts, and/or NRCS, and Army Corps of Engineers that improves county drain function. Watershed management boards should include representation from affected county road commissions and landowners throughout the watershed selected by county commissioners. Watershed management plans developed by these boards should be subject to review by county commissioners with the authority to approve, amend, or reject plans.

  • The limited use of eminent domain to take private property for projects in watershed or drainage district management plans.

  • Increasing the limit on drainage maintenance assessments (such as $10,000 per mile), and payback time, to allow drain work to be done more efficiently and at a lower cost.

  • Elimination of the current exemption allowing non-elected drain/water resources commissioners.

  • All land in a drainage district being assessed according to benefits derived, including public lands.

  • Requiring that special assessment notices include the estimated percentage and dollar amounts apportioned to the recipient’s land, the estimated annual total of all project assessments, and the estimated project assessment duration.

  • Keeping records of public drain work in a manner so the public can view them and understand the scope of work completed and the cost associated with the types and dates of maintenance performed on a drain.

  • Drain/water resources commissioners providing notice of timing and duration of scheduled drain maintenance projects to affected landowners.

  • Requiring performance bonds on work done on intercounty drains where project construction costs exceed $100,000.

  • Clarification that no drainage district should be extended or established for the purpose of removing sediment from man-made reservoirs on rivers or drains.

  • The drain/water resources commissioner directing the deployment of drain sediments, both organic and inorganic, to adjacent land as required to minimize sediment return to the drain.

  • The county drain/water resources commissioner being responsible for removing blockage of a natural watercourse if it affects the function of a county drain.

  • The use of current technology.

  • For all new construction, a description of the work to be performed being provided to owners of property abutting the drain at least 10 days prior to the start of construction to ensure appropriate planning to handle increased storm water due to development. Alternatives to storm water retention ponds should be considered.

We oppose:

  • Changes to rules developed under the Inland Lakes and Streams Act causing increased regulatory burdens to farmers, drain/water resources commissioners, or road commissioners.

  • Requiring all ditches to be two-stage ditches and/or requiring additional engineering or planning on every new or established drain.

  • State funding being used to purchase farmland to construct retention wetlands for private benefit.

  • MDEGLE’s implementation of rules and policies that exceed their federal mandate and are not supported by scientific evidence.

  • The implementation of structures affecting the flow in waterways which negatively impacts agriculture.


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