The Livingston County Drain Commission is up against a tight deadline to revise storm water standards, due to murky communication from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality.

At a county subcommittee meeting Monday, Drain Commissioner Brian Jonckheere says the MDEQ had previously indicated verbally that they would issue a new permit identifying a timeline for the Drain Commission to revise drainage standards. But the Drain Commission recently received an email from the MDEQ stating there must be a draft revision of the current drainage standards by the permit application deadline of December 1st.

Jonckheere says the Drain Commission has typically worked with the county’s communities to incorporate drainage standards into the municipality’s ordinance, so any new standards that are established could be “effectively meaningless” if they do not comply with the current ordinances. He says it’s “interesting” for the MDEQ to make such an order because the Drain Commission does not have any legal authority to unilaterally develop drainage policies except for rare occurrences.

Jonckheere also noted the MDEQ made a decision to move all entities in the state to a jurisdictional permit, despite some being under a watershed permit, like Livingston County.
Livingston County has been operating under a watershed permit versus a jurisdictional permit, as the watershed option is said to allow the county’s communities to develop their own approach to identifying threats to surface water and initiating necessary education and rules. The MDEQ moved all entities to a jurisdictional permit without a new permit or modification of the initial permit. Jonckheere called it a "pretty frustrating double-standard".

While frustrating, Jonckheere did let committee members at Monday’s meeting know that the Drain Commission is working with the City of Detroit, as well as Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties, to develop similar storm water standards. The entities are also preparing to issue an invitation to stakeholders that could be impacted by new rules. (DK)