Kalamaoo County

Office of the Kalamazoo County Drain Commissioner

When to Call the Drain Office

Spills
Call 911 to immediately report ALL spills.

How to Report Surface Water Pollution

Flooding
The Drain Office will respond to threats to property from flooding associated with county drains ONLY. There are many water features in our county that resemble county drains. There are even streams that are partly natural and partly county drain. The Kalamazoo Drain Commissioner's Office can only assist you if your flooding is from a drain within its jurisdiction. Please find your location on our County Drain Maps to determine if flooding is coming from a county drain or county basin before you call us at (269) 384-8117.

Here are some other potential flooding locations that are not county drains:
  • Road side ditches are generally the responsibility of the Road Commission of Kalamazoo County. You can make a service request with that office at (269) 381-3170.
  • Drain pipes and open channels that are not county drains or not along roads are likely the responsibility of the property owner (for example, parking lots or farm fields).
  • Streams or rivers that are not drains under our jurisdiction may be the responsibility of the Kalamazoo District Office of the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality at (269) 567-3500.
  • Each local municipality - city, township or village - has their own drainage system, including the cities of Galesburg, Kalamazoo, Parchment, Portage and the villages of Augusta, Climax, Richland, Schoolcraft, and Vicksburg. If you are in the limits of these municipalities, it is likely that a drain belongs to the municipality.

Maintenance
Report drain maintenance needs to the Drain Office. This includes anything that impedes the normal flow of the drain or causes injury to the drain, drain structures, livestock, fish, wildlife, or public health. This includes the accumulation of rubbish, debris, siltation, obstructions, and stream bank erosion.

Illegal Dumping
It is unlawful for anyone to discharge sewage or waste matter to a drain. Report all dumping in or near county drains to the Drain Office. Report abandoned barrels immediately to the County Sheriff or call 911. Do not approach abandoned barrels.

Right of way inquiries
Right of way easements are granted to the Drain Office along all designated county drains for access to operate, maintain, or repair county drains. Property owners retain ownership but are restricted from obstructing the drain or allowing livestock to graze in it. Any lessening of the area of the drain is considered to be an obstruction. It is the duty of the Drain Commissioner to remove all obstructions. Any person causing an obstruction is responsible for the full cost of removing it. All work on this easement by a property owner such as a crossing (under, over or parallel) or a tap in (ditch or pipe connection) to a county drain requires a permit from the Drain Office. (See Permits/Fees Page). Activities in the right of way which cause soil erosion and sedimentation require a permit. If permits are not obtained, the responsible party will be required to apply for a permit at double the permitting fee. If unpermitted activity results in serious damage to the drain, the responsible party will be referred to the State of Michigan. Exact widths of right of way easements vary. The easements are recorded in the Register of Deeds' office and the Drain Office.

Lake Levels
Kalamazoo County has legal lake levels established on Austin, West, Sunset, Long and Hill 'N Brook Lakes. Excess water conditions around those lakes should be reported to the Drain office if no significant rainfall has occurred.