Drain Commissioner

Aerial of Golf CourseThe St. Clair County Drain Commissioner provides for the health, safety and welfare of St. Clair County citizens through the maintenance and protection of surface waters and drainage, and promotes long term environmental and economic sustainability by providing storm water management, flood control, development review and water quality programs.

Mission Statement
The St. Clair County Drain Commissioner's office is dedicated to providing good drainage for agriculture, homes, and businesses; to protecting riparian rights, natural resources, and water quality; and to managing our waterways for multiple uses, including recreation, fishing, swimming, boating, scenic value, and wildlife habitat.

About the Office
The County Drain Commissioner is an elected office with a four year term. The Drain Commissioner is elected county-wide in a partisan election at the same time as the U.S. Presidential election.

The Drain Commissioner's Office is independent of the County Board of Commissioners, other than for its administrative budget and the supplying of office facilities and equipment.

Enabling Legislation
The Drain Commissioner's office functions under the authority of State legislation. The role of the Drain Commissioner is described in the following acts:

  • Michigan Drain Code (Act 40, P.A. of 1956 as amended)
  • Land Division Act (Act 288 of 1967, as last amended by Act 87 of 1997)
  • Condominium Act (Act 59 of 1978)
  • Mobile Home Commission Act (Act 96 of 1987)
  • Local Ordinances
  • Common Law Natural Flow Rights

The St. Clair County Drain Commissioner has published rules for review of storm water drainage in developments. These Rules of the St. Clair County Drain Commissioner are available on this website or from the Drain Office for $15.00.

Printed maps of the county drains and natural watercourses in each township are available for $2.00 each. Maps are also available for download here.

General Information
The St. Clair County Drain Commissioner manages 407 different county and intercounty drains, a total of about 850 miles of waterways. A few of these are enclosed storm sewers, but most are open watercourses. County drains are officially established by petition of landowners who form a drainage district. There are also about 950 miles of natural watercourses in the county that are not drains and are under the jurisdiction of the state as inland streams. Most road ditches are under the jurisdiction of the St. Clair County Road Commission, but some are also county drains. Township drain maps, available from the Drain Office, show which watercourses are officially drains.

Each drainage district is a separate public corporation and the construction and maintenance of the drains is financed by special drain assessments to the landowners within the district. Each drain has rights-of-way for the location and maintenance of the drain. These are easement documents like a deed, which are recorded in the Drain Office. They date back well over one hundred years. Easements acquired prior to 1956 are sometimes recorded only in the Drain Office and not in the Register of Deeds Office. Many landowners, title companies, and building inspectors are sometimes unaware of these drain easements. All visible waterways should be checked for easement restrictions by contacting the Drain Commissioner’s Office.

The county's drainage systems were designed and constructed to handle rural development and agricultural storm water. As more of the county's land surface becomes impervious through development, storm water detention and retention become necessary. Therefore, all new developments in St. Clair County are required to have storm water detention to cope with this additional runoff.

The presence and capabilities of floodplain and wetlands to absorb and store storm water has become more important in the county. The St. Clair County Drain Commissioner's office works closely with federal, state, and local agencies to see that the laws regarding floodplain and wetlands are followed.

Permits from the Drain Commissioner' s office are required for:

  • Any new discharge into a county drain
  • Any culverts or bridges in a county drain
  • Any utility crossing of a county drain
  • Any earth change work in a county drain or right-of-way
  • Any permanent structures in a right-of-way
River way and harbor area Rules of the St. Clair County Drain Commissioner
Application for Drain Commissioner Review
St. Clair County Drain Permit Application
Review & Permit Fees
Contractor Pre-Qualification

Contact Information

Drain Office Staff: Currently there are five full time employees. They are:
Bob Wiley
James Hartson
Denise Goodrich
Ashley Bueche
Tony Youtsos
Drain Commissioner
Engineer / Deputy Drain Commissioner
Account Clerk
Project Manager
Project Manager

St. Clair County Drain Commissioner
21 Airport Drive
St. Clair, Michigan 48079

Phone: (810) 364-5369
Email: Robert Wiley
James Hartson
Tony Youtsos
Ashley Bueche
Denise Goodrich
Drain Commissioner Status: 

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