Huron County Clean Water Project Logo

Clean Water Project

We are dependent on water – we drink it, wash with it, and use it for transportation or recreational purposes. The County of Huron recognizes that protecting our water sources is important to ensure there is enough safe water for all our uses, now and in the future.

The Huron Clean Water Project (HCWP) provides financial and technical assistance to Huron County residents to improve and protect water quality in Huron County. It is funded by the County of Huron and service delivery is provided by Ausable Bayfield and Maitland Valley conservation authorities.

  • Clean Water Projects help protect the health of soil, water, and people.
  • Clean Water Projects help keep bacteria, chemicals, and nutrients out of creeks, rivers, and Lake Huron.
  • Clean Water Projects help to protect the water underground in aquifers.
  • Groundwater is the source of water for private wells and municipal wells for many of our homes, farms, villages and towns, and businesses.
  • Funding from the County of Huron is combined with other cost-share programs and landowner contributions and used to protect water quality on Huron County farms and rural properties.
  • The total value of past projects completed is more than $14.5 million. That’s good for the environment and the economy!


What is the Huron Clean Water Project Fund?

The Huron Clean Water Project (HCWP) is a fund that supports water quality projects in Huron. It is one of the most successful on-the-ground water quality improvement projects in Ontario.

Funding from the County of Huron is combined with other cost-share programs and landowner contributions and made available to local farmers, rural landowners, businesses and community organizations.  These funds are accessed through a grant application process. The grants help offset the costs for projects that improve and protect water quality on Huron County farm, non-farm rural, residential and commercial properties.

Funds are distributed through the Maitland Valley Conservation Authority (MVCA) and the Ausable Bayfield Conservation Authority (ABCA) who deliver the program on behalf of the County.

Since 2005, Huron County residents have completed more than 3,645stewardship projects with funding from the Clean Water Project program. The total value of past projects completed is more than $14.5 million.

What types of projects has the HCWP funded previously?

To date, Huron Clean Water Project grants have helped residents:

  • 3,645 projects completed
  • $14.5 million total reported project costs
  • Planted 674,878 trees
  • 613wells decommissioned
  • 432wells upgraded
  • 40,000 acres of cover crops
  • 232 kilometres of windbreaks
  • 297 erosion control projects
  • 106 unused liquid manure storages decommissioned
What projects are eligible for funding?

Erosion Control

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


Special Projects

Innovative projects that demonstrate improved water quality.


Rural Stormwater Management & Wetland Creation

Retiring fragile agricultural land through enhancement or creation of wetland features to improve surface and groundwater quality. Control of non-native invasive phragmites.


Clean Water Diversion

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


Fragile Land Retirement

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


Livestock Fencing 

Fences, crossings and watering devices to eliminate watercourse livestock access.


Manure Storage Decommissioning 

Proper decommissioning manure storage to prevent water contamination.


Community Projects 

Stewardship and educational projects by community groups (matching dollars).


Cover Crop Incentive 

Encourage farmers to try new cover crop mixes and techniques and demonstrate their use.

Max $15/acre
Max 150 acres
Max $2250 total

Forest Management Plans and Woodlot Enhancement 

Help with forest management plans, harvest advice, invasive species management, and other improvements under direction of a professional forester. This helps private landowners to optimize forest health, create long-term, sustainable returns from their woodlands, and to enhance forest cover to prevent soil erosion and benefit water quality.

$1,000 Forest Management Plan

$3,000 Woodlot Enhancement

Wellhead Protection 

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


Well Decommissioning 

Properly decommissioning abandoned wells to eliminate the link between surface and ground water.


Stewardship Guide Implementation

Water quality improvement projects to implement action plans identified in the Rural Landowner Stewardship (PDF) Guide.


Wetland Restoration Incentive Program

Remuneration for farmland taken out of production to create wide corridors between wetlands and woodlands, establish wet riparian areas. Maximum annual payment of $300 per acre for five years.

Municipal Wellhead Protection Area Reforestation Project

Cost of buying and planting trees, shrubs in 100-metre zone around municipal wells plus maximum annual payment of $500 per acre for three years.

Living Snow Fences

Costs of coniferous trees and planting along County of Huron and provincial highways in priority areas plus maximum annual payment of $500 per acre for five years.

Who is eligible for funding?

Limited funding assistance, covering up to 50% of the costs of eligible projects, is awarded to Huron County farmers, landowners, businesses and community organizations.

County of Huron funding can be combined with other sources such as the Canada-Ontario Environmental Farm Plan cost-share program, Canada Nature Fund, and Forests Ontario tree planting subsidy programs.

How do I apply for funding?

HCWP Applications:

For questions or assistance with the application process, please contact:

Maitland Valley Conservation Authority
Ben Van Dieten
Stewardship Projects Lead
519-335-3557 ext. 245


Ausable Bayfield Conservation Authority
519-235-2610 ext. 263 or 1-888-286-2610
Nathan Schoelier
Stewardship and Conservation Lands Manager

Who can I contact to learn more?

Maitland Valley Conservation Authority
Ben Van Dieten
Stewardship Projects Lead
519-335-3557 ext. 245

Ausable Bayfield Conservation Authority
Nathan Schoelier
Stewardship and Conservation Lands Manager
519-235-2610 ext. 263 | 1-888-286-2610

Clean Water FAQ

Why is clean water vital for our community?

Clean water is vital to our health, communities, and economy.

  • People depend on clean water for their health and well-being.
  • Healthy ecosystems provide habitat for wildlife and promote biodiversity.
  • Huron’s local economy depends on clean water for things like manufacturing, agriculture, tourism and culture, recreation, and much more!

By working together to protect Huron County’s water quality, we will help to ensure a sustainable and vibrant future for our community.

How can land stewardship benefit Huron’s waterways?

The health of Huron County’s rivers, lakes, and waterways depend on the streams and wetlands where they begin. Streams and wetlands provide many benefits to communities by trapping floodwaters, recharging groundwater supplies, filtering pollution, and providing habitat for fish and wildlife.

How can I benefit by participating in the HCWP program?

Participating in the HCWP helps with the costs of stewardship projects that improve and protect water quality, soil and forests for today and for future generations. Conservation Authority staff provide free technical assistance and advice to help do projects in a way that helps the landowner and the environment. Staff also provide links to other sources of funding to help cover costs. These projects are good for you and everyone who lives downstream.

What is a cover crop?

Cover crops are one of the most frequently funded projects of the HCWP and have many benefits to both the landowner and the community.

Cover crops are non-commercial crops planted help to protect water quality and build soil health by reducing loss of nutrients and topsoil, reducing the amount and speed of water running off of land, and reducing the wind speed at ground level which reduces wind and water erosion and the speed of water runoff.

What is erosion control and why is it important?

The HCWP funds projects that help reduce and prevent erosion – keeping soil on fields to grow crops Eroded soil transports nutrients, bacteria and other pollutants to water bodies. Eligible projects include grassed waterways, water and sediment control basins, and riverine bank protection.

How can tree planting in agricultural and rural areas benefit both the farm and the community?

The HCWP funds planting native trees and shrubs to control erosion and protect watercourses. Planting trees along watercourses protects the banks and reduces run off. Trees are often planted on erosion-prone, sloped lands and flood plains that aren’t profitable for farming. Treed windbreaks along field edges or watercourses reduce wind speeds that can erode valuable topsoil.

Learn more about the kinds of trees to plant in Huron County:

Landowner Stewardship Guides

Two Landowner Stewardship Guides have been produced to assist landowners, residents, and cottagers become better stewards of the Lake Huron coastline and the rural countryside.

A Stewardship Guide to the Lake Huron Coastline

Working together we can protect the quality of our water – both groundwater and surface water such as streams, rivers, ravines, creeks, wetlands and lakes.

A new workbook-style guide developed by the County’s Water Protection Steering Committee and citizen’s groups emphasizes the role of lakeshore residents and non-farm property owners in protecting this precious resource in a responsible and collective way.

This publication helps participants assess their property, buildings and structures, and identify areas where they are impacting the local environment and water quality. By protecting water quality, you are also protecting your investment as a property owner or resident in this landscape.

Rural Landowner Stewardship Guide

The Rural Landowner Stewardship Guide Program was developed as a response to the awareness that the health of the rural landscape depends upon the actions of all rural landowners, and not of farmers alone.

The overriding goal of the Rural Landowner Stewardship Guide is to protect and enhance the quality of our natural environment – both groundwater and surface water such as streams, rivers, ravines, creeks, wetlands and lakes, and the natural landscape features that support these ecosystems.

Both Landowner Stewardship Guides were developed by Ausable-Bayfield Conservation Authority; County of Huron Planning & Development; Friends of the Bayfield River; Huron Stewardship Council; Lake Huron Centre for Coastal Conservation; University of Guelph.

Long-term soil health and climate solutions of riparian buffers