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Huron County Clean Water Project

The County of Huron provides grants for water quality projects by county landowners, residents, and community groups - through the Huron County Clean Water Project. Ausable Bayfield Conservation and Maitland Conservation provide service delivery.

Download the Huron County Clean Water Project Brochure now to learn about grants at this link:

To apply for funding or for information on grants available to landowners, residents, and community groups for your projects contact Forestry and Land Stewardship Specialist Ian Jean, extension 238, at: 519-235-2610 or toll-free 1-888-286-2610.

If you are in the Maitland Valley watershed, contact Maitland Conservation at 519-335-3557.

For more information on the Huron County Clean Water Project visit:

You may also click on 'Forestry and Stewardship' at the top of the page.

Your success

Huron County residents have, with support of the Huron County Clean Water Project:

  • Planted 931 acres of trees
  • Established 197 kilometres of windbreaks
  • Upgraded 398 private wells
  • Decommissioned 570 unused wells
  • Decommissioned 95 liquid manure storages
  • Planted 631,176 trees
  • Completed 222 erosion control projects
  • Completed 160 Forest Management Plans
  • Fenced cattle out of 25 kilometres of streams
  • Planted 24,329 acres of cover crops

Thank you! That's good for water, soil ... and the economy!

More than $11.8 million in total project value!

Issued: May 1, 2020

New water stewardship projects underway through Huron County Clean Water Project funding

HURON COUNTY – Landowners are completing new projects to improve water quality thanks to funding from the County of Huron. 

The county has allocated $400,000 for the Huron Clean Water Project (HCWP) in 2020. The long-standing program provides grants and technical assistance to Huron County residents. Nearly 3,000 projects have been completed since 2005.

“The Huron Clean Water Project is important to the residents, the environment, and the economy,” said Huron County Councillor Jamie Heffer, Chair of the committee that reviews the projects. “It helps people do practical, on-the-ground projects that make a difference.”

Funding covers up to 50 per cent of project cash costs. Maitland Valley Conservation Authority (MVCA) and Ausable Bayfield Conservation Authority (ABCA) deliver the program on behalf of the county.

“Projects improve surface water quality in rivers and lakes by reducing contamination by pollution, nutrients, soil erosion, runoff, and septic systems,” said Doug Hocking, of MVCA. “Decommissioning unused wells or upgrading existing well casings protects groundwater by eliminating the connection between surface water and groundwater. Community and youth education programs and events are also eligible for funding.”

The HCWP has 17 different categories including: erosion control, watercourse fencing, tree planting, cover crops, wetland creation, septic systems, manure storage decommissioning, well decommissioning, well casing improvements, forest management plans, and community projects. 

The HCWP funded septic system upgrades last year (2019) for the first time. The 50 per cent grant up to $2,000 per septic project is available again this year. “Faulty septic systems can be a source of pollution,” Hocking said.

“We’re happy we were able to help fund repair or replacement of 19 septic systems.” This has an immediate benefit for the protection and improvement of water quality, he said.

Kate Monk, of Ausable Bayfield Conservation Authority, has been working on the county program since it began in 2004 and she said the improvements are encouraging. “The projects make a difference at the site and downstream,” she said. 

One particular project comes to mind for Monk. She has been watching this particular project for the past ten years. The project was stream restoration in a cattle pasture. It was completed with funding from the HCWP. Fences on both sides of the creek keep the cattle excluded and trees were planted between the fences. Cattle now drink water from the farmstead well instead of the creek.

“The grasses on the streambanks hold the soil, the trees shade the water, and the fence keeps the cattle out of the creek,” Monk explained. “The cattle are drinking clean water which is good for herd health.”

Although program staff are working remotely during the current pandemic, people can contact them by calling the MVCA at 519-335-3557, extension 236, or ABCA at 519-235-2610, extension 227. Staff monitor the phones and reply to messages.

More information is also available at:


Funding available for septic system upgrades through Huron County Clean Water Project

The Huron County Clean Water Project is gearing up to tackle another source of water pollution: septic systems. 
People living in the countryside and hamlets – including homes and cottages along Lake Huron – have septic systems to treat household waste from kitchens and bathrooms. When functioning properly, septic systems are a cost-effective, efficient method of treating waste. But they have a lifespan and faulty septic systems are a daily source of contamination. 

“Failed septic systems are demonstrated point sources of nutrient loadings, infectious agents, residual medication and domestic products that can have a chronic negative effect on watercourses in Huron County,” said Doug Hocking of Maitland Valley Conservation. “All septic tile beds eventually require replacement.”
The Huron Clean Water Project (HCWP) is allocating a total of $40,000 to the septic system upgrade category in 2019 with a maximum grant of $2,000 per project. Systems that have the potential to contaminate drinking water and those near municipal drinking water wells are the main focus. Residences west of Highway 21 are also high priority because of their potential impact on swimming beaches. 

The grant approval process is similar to other HCWP projects. Staff will help landowners complete the application form which is evaluated by the grant review committee. Applicants will need a cost estimate from a licensed contractor in order to apply. When the project is approved, completed and paid for, staff do a final site visit and the grant is issued.

The first application deadline is May 31, 2019 and the second intake period ends August 31, 2019.

The Huron Clean Water Project has 17 project categories to help people improve and protect water quality. The county program has provided grants to more than 2,800 projects since 2004. 

People interested in applying are invited to call Doug Hocking at Maitland Valley Conservation (519-335-3557, extension 236) or Kate Monk at Ausable Bayfield Conservation (519-235-2610, extension 227).

Agricultural producer has seen increased adoption of cover crops in Huron County 
Huron County Clean Water Project provides cover crop incentive, grant support for landowners, community groups to protect water

Agricultural producer Doug Walker has seen an increase in planting of cover crops over the past three decades. The Belgrave-area man remembers a time when he was one of the few people using cover crops in his part of Huron County and now almost all his neighbours are planting cover crops. A lifelong resident of his family farm near Belgrave, he has seen more cover crops, less tillage, and an increased interest in soil health.

Many Huron County residents have undertaken projects to improve soil health, preserve topsoil, reduce erosion, and protect water quality with support of the Huron County Clean Water Project. Doug Walker is one of the Huron landowners who has completed projects with support of the county program. In his case, he has taken part in the cover crop incentive and the forest management plan woodlot enhancement category. 

The Huron County Clean Water Project is funded by the County of Huron. Service delivery is provided by Maitland Conservation and Ausable Bayfield Conservation. The County of Huron has been praised as a leader in water quality initiatives such as Huron County Clean Water Project, providing grants in 17 project categories to county residents and community groups. 

“We tell people about the program,” Walker said. He has encouraged his neighbours to contact their local conservation authority to find out about grant support and technical support for their projects.

Doug Walker grows cash crops (such as corn, soy beans, wheat, oats, barley, and edible beans and black beans).

He has also been producing pedigreed seed, and processing seed, since the early 1980s. Farmers learn a lot from each other about what works and what doesn’t when it comes to cover crops, according to Walker. “I have some neighbours who are doing some really good things with cover crops,” he said. “I usually learn as much from them as they learn from me.” 

There may be some challenges to cover crops but their benefits, combined with reduced tillage, are great, according to Walker. He said he sees the benefits in the health of his soil and in the clarity of creeks and drains where they are planted. It takes time to get the soil health benefits of cover crops so he encourages fellow producers to have patience as they increase their use of cover crops. The full benefits of cover crops happen when combined with less tillage, he said. “We did not get the full benefit of cover crops until we stopped doing full tillage,” he said. They strip-till corn and edible beans “but that is the only tillage we do,” he said. That reduction in tillage has resulted in time savings, less rutting, less soil damage, and less erosion.

Huron County’s water and soil programs don’t just provide benefits for a single producer, according to Walker. They provide benefits for the whole community. “I hope we can make Huron County the place where others come to see sustainability in action,” he said.

To find out more about the Huron County Clean Water Project visit or or or phone your local conservation authority. You are invited to phone Maitland Conservation at 519-335-3557 or Ausable Bayfield Conservation at 519-235-2610 or toll-free 1-888-286-2610.

Projects and Maximum Grant Levels

Please download brochure above. 

Erosion Control

Grassed waterways, catch basins, terraces, berms to reduce erosion of agricultural land.

Maximum Grant $5,000

Special Projects

Innovative public projects that demonstrate improved water quality. Maximum Grant $3,000

Rural Stormwater Management and Wetland Management Plans

Enhancing or creating wetland features to improve surface and groundwater quality. Control of non-native invasive Phragmites.

Maximum Grant $3,000

Clean Water Diversion

Berms and eavestroughs to divert water from manure and exercise yards.

Maximum Grant $3,000

Fragile Land Retirement (More than one hectare)

Planting trees and shrubs on erosion-prone land. Buffer strips along watercourses; windbreaks; plantations.

Maximum Grant $4,000

Fragile Land Retirement (Less than one hectare)

Planting trees and shrubs on erosion-prone land. Buffer strips along watercourses; windbreaks; plantations.

Maximum Grant $3,000

Livestock Access Restriction

Fences, crossings, and watering devices to eliminate cattle access to watercourses.

Maximum Grant $3,000

Manure Storage Decommission

Properly decommissioning manure storage facilities to prevent water contamination.

Maximum Grant $3,000

Community Projects

Community groups can apply for matching dollars for stewardship and education projects.

Maximum Grant $2,000

Septic Systems and Composting Toilets

Upgrading and repairing septic systems that have a negative impact on surface water or ground water.

Composting toilets to reduce waste load on an existing waste water system.

Maximum Grant $2,000

Forest Management Plans and Woodlot Enhancement

Forest management plans, harvest advice, invasive species management, and other improvements under direction of a professional forester to enhance forest cover.

Maximum Grant $1,000

Wellhead Protection

Pitless adapter caps, grading, sealing and upgrading well casings to prevent contamination.

Maximum Grant $750

Well Decommission

Properly decommission abandoned wells to eliminate link between groundwater and surface water.

Maximum Grant $750

Stewardship Guide Implementation

Water quality improvement projects to implement action plans identified in the Lake Huron Coastline or Rural Landowner Stewardship Guides.

Maximum Grant $500

Cover Crop Incentive

Establish cover crops with three or more species to reduce erosion and protect local water quality.

Grant is $10 per acre to a maximum of 100 acres.

Maximum Grant $1,000

Living Snow Fences

Costs of coniferous trees and planting along County of Huron and provincial highways in priority areas.

$20 per tree plus maximum annual payment of $500 per acre for five years.

Wellhead Protection Area Reforestation Project

Costs of buying and planting trees, shrubs in 100-metre zone around municipal wells.

$2,000 plus maximum annual payment of $500 per acre for three years.

Wetland Restoration Incentive Program

Remuneration for farmland taken out of production to create wide corridors between wetlands and woodlands, establish wet riparian areas.

$300 per acre for five years.

Huron County Clean Water Project

The Huron County Clean Water Project is celebrating almost a decade and a half of financial and technical assistance to improve and protect water quality on Huron County farms and rural properties.

Since 2005 county residents have completed more than 2,800 stewardship projects using funds received from the Clean Water Project.

The Huron County Clean Water Project is one of the most successful on-the-ground water quality improvement projects in the province. Funding from the County of Huron is combined with other cost-share programs and landowner contributions. The projects have a total value of more than $10 million – that’s good for the environment and the economy.

Limited funding assistance covering up to 50 per cent of the costs of eligible projects is awarded annually to county residents. Farmers can combine this funding with other cost-share programs.