Water Protection

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 that there is enough safe water for all our uses – now and in the future.

Huron County supports a series of initiatives developed to preserve the quality and quantity of water within this region. Research projects, public education and funding opportunities to improve environmental conditions are available for property owners, municipal Councils, and organizations.

Water Protection Steering Committee

The Water Protection Steering Committee is a group of partner organizations, within Huron County, working together to protect the quality of our water – both groundwater and surface water.

This multi-stakeholder group, which meets quarterly, was formed in 2004; it includes:

  • Representatives from Provincial, County and Municipal government
  • Conservation Authorities
  • Agriculture, manufacturing and tourism associations, and
  • Citizen groups

This partnership has undertaken and supports many projects ranging from research studies, planning initiatives, monitoring, outreach and education. If you are interested in learning more about the Water Protection Steering Committee, or would like to know what you and your group can do to protect local water quality, please contact the Planning and Development Department at 519.524.8394, ext 3.

2020 Water Protection Steering Committee – Virtual September Meeting – The Challenge of Shoreline Erosion – Lake Huron Isn’t Bluffing


Huron Clean Water Project

Updated May, 2020

The Huron County Clean Water Project is celebrating sixteen years of financial and technical support to improve and protect water quality on Huron County farms and rural properties. Since 2005 county residents have completed more than 3,000 stewardship projects with funding from the Clean Water Project.

Clean Water Project grants have helped residents:

  • plant more than 375 hectares of trees;
  • fence cattle out of 25 kilometres of streams;
  • plant 200 kilometres of windbreaks;
  • decommission 95 liquid manure storages;
  • complete 160 forest management plans;
  • upgrade 400 private wells;
  • complete 222 erosion control projects;
  • decommission 570 unused wells; and
  • plant 25,000 acres of cover crops.

Fixing individual sources of pollution contributes to healthy environment and community.

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 $5 million – that’s good for the environment and the economy.

Limited funding assistance covering up to 50% of the costs of eligible projects is awarded county farmers, rural landowners, businesses and community organizations. Huron County funding can be combined with other sources such as the Canada-Ontario Environmental Farm Plan cost-share program, Canadian Nature Fund, and Forests Ontario tree planting subsidy programs.

Erosion Control – Grassed waterways, catch basins, terraces and berms to reduce erosion of agricultural land. $5,000
Special Projects – Innovative projects that demonstrate improved water quality. $3,000
Rural Stormwater Management & Wetland Creation – Retiring fragile agricultural land through enhancement or creation of wetland features to improve surface & groundwater quality. $3,000
Clean Water Diversion – Berms and eavestroughs to divert clean water from manure and exercise yards. $3,000
Fragile Land Retirement – Planting trees and shrubs on erosion-prone land. Buffer strips along watercourses. Projects larger than 1 hectare can receive up to $4,000. $3,000
Livestock Fencing – Fences, crossings and watering devices to eliminate watercourse livestock access. $3,000
Manure Storage Decommissioning – Proper decommissioning manure storage to prevent water contamination. $3,000
Community Projects – Stewardship and educational projects by community groups (matching dollars). $2,000
Septic Systems and Composting Toilets – Upgrading and repairing septic systems. Composting toilets to reduce waste load on an existing waste water system.   $2,000
Cover Crop Incentive – Encourage farmers to try new cover crop mixes and techniques and demonstrate their use. $1,000
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
Wellhead Protection – Pitless adapter caps, grading, sealing and upgrading well casings to prevent contamination. $750
Well Decommissioning – Properly decommissioning abandoned wells to eliminate the link between surface and ground water. $750
Stewardship Guide Implementation – Water quality improvement projects to implement action plans identified in the Lake Huron Coastline (PDF) or Rural Landowner Stewardship (PDF) Guides. $500

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-meter 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.

To apply for funding, or to obtain further information, call Maitland Valley Conservation Authority at 519.335.3557 or Ausable Bayfield Conservation Authority at 519.235.2610 or 1.888.286.2610.

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 for the Lake Huron CoastlineA Stewardship Guide for 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.

The publication – A Stewardship Guide For The Lake Huron Coastline – 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.

The guide is divided into three sections including:

  • Introduction to Local Ecology, a look at the cultural and physical geography of the Lake Huron landscape;
  • A Workbook, which includes 12 worksheets for rating activities on your property;
  • And an Action Plan for analyzing potential problem areas and ways in which you can reduce the potential for environmental damage and water contamination.

Workshops on using this guide and property assessment tool are available during the summer months and can be arranged by contacting Susanna Reid, Planner, Planning and Development Department at 519.524.8394 ext 3. If you are a non-farm resident, cottager or property owner along the Canadian shore of Lake Huron, from Tobermory to Sarnia, you can become involved by:

  1. Helping to organize a workshop for shoreline residents in your area;
  2. Taking part in a workshop;
  3. Promoting the workshop to other members in your cottagers’ association;
  4. Becoming a water quality steward.

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.


  • pdf
    Huron County Clean Water Project Brochure, 2020