Drainage is crucial for Michigan agriculture. Elected County Drain/Water Resource Commissioners have an important relationship with farmers as the officials who maintain that drainage system. When regulations change for Commissioners, those changes often affect farmers. This can cause confusion in situations such as performing maintenance or clean out work on a county drain, which requires a permit if it is not done by the Commissioner or someone contracted by them. Restrictions on placing fill in wetlands apply regardless of whether the wetland is near a county drain. Work involving state or federal funding includes protection of threatened and endangered species. Many other conditions may change regulatory status as well.
An active working relationship between county Farm Bureaus and the Commissioners can help with information sharing, both about regulatory requirements and with farmer needs and priorities for drainage. It also provides opportunities to try innovative projects, like a pilot project underway in Monroe, Washtenaw and Saginaw Counties to provide project assessment discounts to farmers who implement conservation practices. More collaboration may be needed, particularly in counties with a large urban population in which the Commissioner does not focus primarily on agricultural land, or where region-specific challenges need to be addressed.
Laura Campbell | 517-679-5332
MFB: #73 Agricultural Drainage
State and Federal Resources used by the Michigan Association of County Drain Commissioners
Michigan’s Drain Code, Inland Lakes and Streams and Wetlands statutes
Video: The Importance of Michigan’s Drain Commissioners