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 supervisor, maintenance worker, and a part-time maintenance worker. In 2003, the Sheriff’s Department initiated their earned release program (ERP) as one measure to help address jail overcrowding. The Drain Maintenance crew utilizes the services of the ERP crew 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 2013, the Drain Crew inspected or maintained over 200 drains located in twenty-four Allegan County municipalities. The future priorities for the Drain Crew will entail more emphases on cleaning drain right-of-ways to ensure more efficient inspections, develop a brush selective spray program for follow-up to maintenance, and create a page for the County web site to inform and update the public on Drain Crew projects.