Source: Sherman Publications

Village drain, flood issues discussed
County Drain Commissioner to attend meeting

by David Fleet

August 07, 2013

Genesee County Drain Commissioner Jeff Wright is expected to attend the village council on Monday night to discuss the progress of the repairs to the Wheelock and Watkins drain.

The meeting starts at 7 p.m. in the Village of Goodrich Offices, 7338 S. State Road.

The agricultural drain, built in 1897 and which encompasses a large section of the village impacting about 118 residents, has been the possible cause of flooding of several residents’ homes.

Last year petitions were signed and in a special meeting on April 9 at the village offices, a board of determination comprised of Richfield Township Supervisor Joseph Madore, Mundy Township Supervisor David Guigear and Argentine Township Supervisor Robert Cole voted 3-0 to move forward an upgrade to the Wheelock and Watkins drain.

Since then a study and extensive survey of the impacted drain area to provide possible solutions is ongoing, say county officials. The engineering firm of Fleis and Venderbrink is currently conducting the study. The engineering process will also allow for feedback from the public and input from the Genesee County Drain Commissioner.

Jim Gerth, director of surface water management for the Genesee County Drain Commission, said several factors should be taken into consideration with regard to the drain.

”The Wheelock and Watkins drain is extremely old,” he said. “There were no, or few, homes in the area when the drain was first constructed. Given the long history of the drain, the engineers need time to compile data to make educated decisions. We hear the residents’ input and their focus on cause and responsibility; however, there’s not really anything we can tell until the study is complete. Without preliminary engineering we just can’t answer these questions. It’s a very analytical approach, but one that is necessary.”

“The drain is a variety of ages, some is only six or eight inches in diameter, there are private drains involved and many years ago the railroad even installed drains,” he said. “We’ve had residents report fish and minnows coming up the drain— that means water is coming the wrong way from the creek. Some are convinced the dam and level of the mill pond is causing the problems. We have to have time to investigate all these reports.”

“It’s very emotional, but we need actual data to come back with a valid solution,” he added. “The drain has to be effective when it’s constructed. That takes time.”

Gerth also said the drain issue in Goodrich is not unique.

“Sections of Davison, Mt. Morris and even Grand Blanc have all had similar problems over the past few years,” he said. “It’s typical for the middle of Michigan. When these drains were created much of the area was agriculture. In the farming areas crops can stand with a few inches of water on them. However, a home cannot—the duration of time that water stands in a residential area near homes has to be acceptable.”

Gerth did not indicate costs or a timeframe for work on the project.