Grants available to protect drinking water

Land­owners in portions of seven com­munities in Wellington County are eligible for grants to decommission old private wells, upgrade their septic sys­tems and undertake other pro­jects that will help protect muni­cipal drinking water supplies.

The grants are available to those who own land near municipal wells in Arthur, Dray­ton, Moorefield, Fergus, Elora, Rockwood, and the Hamilton Drive neighborhood north of Guelph.

In some communities, where the wells are located outside the built-up area, only a handful of properties may be eligible. However, in places where the wells are in the urban area, dozens of properties may be eligible. The eligible prop­erties are within what is known as the “two-year time-of-trav­el” zone around the municipal wells. That is the area where it takes water two years, moving through the ground, to reach the municipal well.

Maps showing the eligible zones can be found on the website of the Lake Erie Re­gion Source Protection Region at in the Stewardship Program section. To get more information, or to apply, contact Tracey Ryan, Supervisor of Conservation Services with the Grand River Conservation Authority at or at 519-621-2763, extension 2269.

Farmers can also apply for grants through the Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Asso­ci­ation by contacting John Ben­ham at 519-846-0941.

The grants are available through the Ontario Drinking Water Stewardship program. The program was created under the Clean Water Act, which was passed to protect the aquifers, rivers and lakes that are  sour­ces of municipal drinking water.

Projects and grant rates are:

– Well decommissioning and upgrading Grants are available to decommission old wells, to upgrade wells that are still in use, or to connect to a muni­cipal drinking water service line and decommission the old well. The program will cover up to 80 per cent of the cost to a maximum of $4,000.

– Septic system inspection and upgrades The program will cover up to 80 per cent of the cost of an eligible project, to a maximum of $7,000. The maxi­mum rises to $15,000 for an advanced septic system.

– Pollution prevention re­views Pollution prevention aud­its are available to small and medium-sized businesses that manufacture, handle, store, and dispose of materials into water, land, or air. The audit will identify ways to reduce envi­ron­mental and business risks arising from potential threats to water. The program will pay 100 per cent of the cost up to a maximum of $12,000. The aud­its are handled by an independent consulting firm. The results are confidential.

– Runoff and erosion pro­tection Grants are available for a wide variety of projects in­cluding erosion control, nutri­ent management planning, farm­yard runoff control, im­prov­ed manure storage and hand­ling and others. Depend­ing on the nature of the project, grants range from 25 per cent up to 70 per cent. In some cas­es, the grants can be stacked with grants from other pro­grams to cover up to 100 per cent of the cost.

The program is being ad­ministered by the GRCA and three other conservation auth­orities in the Lake Erie Source Protection Region: Long Point Region, Catfish Creek and Kettle Creek.

 Under the Clean Water Act, the Ministry of the Envi­ron­ment has made available $7-million each year, for four years, to help landowners take action to reduce threats to local municipal drinking water sup­plies.

The Clean Water Act calls for the development of a source protection plan which will identify the threats to muni­cipal drinking water supplies and propose plans to reduce threats to water quality and quantity. Work on the develop­ment of the plan is being overseen by a multi-stake­holder source protection com­mittee.