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Drain Commissioner’s impact on Red Run

October 20, 2011

Water is a natural entity unaware of political boundaries or law.
Often man intervenes affecting how water flows and percolates.
What happens in place “A” has impact on place “B” and those
locations can be miles and miles apart from one another.
Water issues need a large, comprehensive, multi-communities approach.

A perfect example
The Bear Creek drainage district has 29 smaller county drains

Multiple Drains Warren Michigan

Multiple Drains Warren Michigan

Municipal public works projects are effected by state/federal law.
State law in Michigan regulates what an elected public official like
a county drain commissioner does, (or does not),
have jurisdiction over; regarding the local drains.

The Michigan Drain Code defines a drain as:

“the main stream or trunk and all tributaries or branches of any creek/river,
any watercourse or ditch, either open or closed, any covered drain,
any sanitary or any combined sanitary and storm sewer or conduit
composed of tile, brick, concrete, or other material, any structures
or mechanical devices, that will properly purify the flow of such drains,
any pumping equipment necessary to assist or relieve the flow of
such drains and any levee, dike, barrier, or a combination of any
or all of same constructed, or proposed to be constructed, for the purpose
of drainage or for the purification of the flow of such drains, but shall not
include any dam and flowage rights used in connection there with
which is used for the generation of power by a public utility subject
to regulation by the public service commission.”

“drains including branches may be located, established, constructed
and maintained, and existing drains, creeks, rivers and watercourses
and their branches, or tributaries whether located, established and
constructed by a county drain commissioner or drainage board . . .,
whenever the same shall be conducive to the public health,
convenience and welfare.”

Communities in Michigan face financial challenges managing  :
– wastewater treatment plants
– sanitary sewer service
– storm water management
– flooding and drainage
– various rivers, streams, and lakes

Chapter 20 of the Michigan Drain Code, MCL 280. 1 et seq. provides
the legal authority to create a  – “”public corporation”” –  to address this.

Public Health on the other hand is quite the gray area though.
It is not clearly defined by Michigan case law or the Drain Code.
Should a Drain Commissioner’s activities include items designed
to protect, prevent and improve the health of a community  ?

The EPA and MDEQ currently issue a “general storm water permit”
to – sections of Michigan watersheds – to improve a river or stream.

The Federal Court would like a formal organization or
watershed-wide authority ( in counties like Wayne and Oakland )
to address non-point source pollution problems.
A watershed-wide entity that could administer, operate and maintain
a complete watershed based storm water permit program.

Should a Michigan Drain Commisioner use the current law to create
a  – “”public corporation”” – and cover costs of the drain management
through a special assessment  ????
A special assessment; by law; must result in a proportionate increase
in the value of the property specially benefited.

Keep in mind that “user or connection” charges can also be legally used
for financing the construction, operation and maintenance of drains.

What happens in Oakland County directly impacts Macomb County.
The dividing line of Dequindre Road splits Oakland and Macomb.
Madison Heights is home to the Southeastern Oakland County
Sewer District System (SOCSDS) Twelve Towns Retention / Treatment Facility (RTF)
Forty-two major storm drains were disconnected and reconnected
from 12 different towns to the North and South drains of the Red Run.

There are 5 seperate unique watersheds within Oakland County.
Oakland County wants revenue – under the disguise of mutual aid,
regional cooperative plans, shared expertise, etc., etc.
They even have a fancy name for it :
Collaborative Asset Management system or CAMS.

In 1977, the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
sued Metro Detroit for violations of the Clean Water Act.
In 2009 the case was settled. Detroit turned over control
of a very large sewer system to Oakland and Macomb County.
It created a director’s council made up of the director of the
Detroit Water and Sewerage Department (DWSD) and
one official from each of the three counties,
i.e. Oakland, Macomb and Wayne.

The EPA recently proposed enhanced regulations for existing areas
and has included discussions about retrofitting storm sewer systems,
and structures for improved storm water control.
Local governments in Michigan may not be able to handle these costs.

There seems to be a poltical war brewing concerning treating the
SouthEastern Michigan Watersheds as 5 seperate unique entities
– or splitting them up into little itty bitty Sub-Watersheds.

Sub Watersheds SouthEast Michigan

Sub Watersheds SouthEast Michigan

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