In the fall of 1998, convinced of the need for a proactive program for drainage maintenance, the Board of Commissioners authorized the creation of a drain maintenance program.
The drain maintenance crew consists of a Maintenance Supervisor and Maintenance Technician. The Earned Release Program (ERP) and Detailed Enabled a Better Transition into Society (DEBTS) were initiated by the Sheriff's Department in 1998 and 2003 respectively as measures to help address jail overcrowding. The Drain Maintenance crew utilizes this service several days a week.
The main priorities for the Drain Crew are inspection and maintenance of the drains in Allegan County. In addition, the Drain Crew has set an objective to have a three-year maintenance program on every County Drain that has been recently reconstructed or maintained. Maintenance activities completed by the Drain Crew include clearing brush and debris, cleaning drain right-of-ways, and stabilizing eroded ditch banks using stream restoration techniques. Maintenance is accomplished manually by using hand tools and small equipment.
This strong preventive maintenance effort can help circumvent the need for more costly reconstruction projects. Experience has shown that periodic drain maintenance allows drains to better handle large amounts of water during storm events which translates into less property damage incurred both privately and publicly. As all costs incurred on county drains are the responsibility of the individual watershed districts, proactive maintenance reduces the potential financial burden to private property owners and public municipalities.
In 2017, approximately 140 drains in Allegan County were inspected or maintained by the Drain Crew located in twenty-four Allegan County municipalities.