The Drain Commissioner’s Office is established by Act No. 40 of the Public Acts of 1956 and is responsible for the administration of the State Drain Code as it applies to designated/dedicated county drains.
The Branch County Drain Commissioner, Michael Hard, was appointed as Drain Commissioner in October of 2003 and elected to the position in 2004. He is responsible for construction, operation and maintenance of over 400 “County Drains” covering 1200 miles in Branch County. A county drain may be an open or tiled ditch usually in agricultural areas. Private or natural waterways are not under his jurisdiction.
Each county drain has their own watershed district and apportionment of benefits accordingly with the drain maintenance work paid by special assessment of the properties in the watershed.
Each county drain also has a Release of Right of Way or a Drainage Easement for the parcels abutting the drain. The Right of Way or easement restricts the building of pemanent structures along the drain and allows for access for maintenance of the drains. The easement widths may vary on each drain depending on the drain size and type.
Easements obtained prior to 1956 were not required by law to be recorded with the Branch County of Register of Deeds office and are considered properly recorded if they are on file in the Drain Commission office. The property owner retains ownership of the easement and has a joint responsibility with the drain commissioner in preventing dumping of any items that would obstruct drainage, reflect the flow and plug culverts, which can lead to flooding conditions and higher maintenance costs of the drain. Routine maintenance is necessary to insure proper function of the drain.