County authorizes one-year extension of Wellington Rural Water Quality Program

GUELPH – Wellington County council has approved an agreement with the Grand River Conservation Authority (GRCA) to continue with the Wellington Rural Water Quality Program (WRWQP) through 2023, while working toward a longer-term agreement.

“The project agreement with the GRCA was about to expire at the end of 2022 and the committee agreed with extending into 2023,” councillor Allan Alls, planning committee chair, told council on Sept. 29.

A report from planning and environment manger Meagan Ferris explains the program provides cost-share funding to Wellington County farmers and landowners who voluntarily implement projects to improve and protect water quality. 

The program is administered by the GRCA on the county’s behalf and delivered by conservation authority staff. 

The report notes the previous agreement with the GRCA was for five years.

However, in consultation with the GRCA, staff proposed to renew the agreement for just one year. 

“A renewal for one year is proposed at this time due to recent changes to the Conservation Authorities Act. More specifically, the Wellington Rural Water Quality Program (considered a Category 2 program) is not deemed a mandatory conservation authority program,” Ferris explains in the report.

“As such, the Conservation Authorities Act now requires the GRCA to enter into agreements with municipalities to deliver these types of municipal initiatives.” 

Because of the changes to the act, additional agreements will be negotiated in 2023 and must be in place by Jan. 1, 2024.

The delivery of the WRWQP will be included in these new agreements.

The WRWQP has been in place since 1999 and has funded over 3,461 projects, “which has resulted in a substantial investment to improve and protect the quality of the county’s surface and ground water,” the report states.